Tongue tie is not always obvious. The tongue can look ENTIRELY normal to the untrained eye. Sometimes it’s pulled into a heart shape or the attachment may be visible on the tip of the tongue. This may be missed by many health professionals, yet is a hidden cause of serious breastfeeding problems.
If you look under your tongue, you might see it is attached to the floor of your mouth with what is called a lingual frenum or frenulum. This “string” is left over tissue from facial development and typically works its way back down the tongue during pregnancy, reducing to insignificance before birth.
Sometimes this doesn’t happen, and ties can also occur on upper or lower lips, gums and cheeks. If the string is too short or tight and restricts movement of the tongue, this is termed “tongue tie” (Ankyloglossia).
The consequences of an untreated tongue tie can be many and varied, depending largely on the age of the subject and the severity of the condition. Delay in treatment, therefore, can have very negative consequences.
For infants, the inability to breastfeed successfully in the presence of a tongue tie can cause a variety of challenges for the infant, the mother and the family. For the baby, these may include failing to thrive, sleep deprivation, poor bonding with mother and problems introducing solids.
The maternal experience of breastfeeding a tongue-tied baby may include pain, nipple damage or infection, depression or a sense of failure.
And children with a tongue tie have to contend with difficulties which may only be discovered as they grow older. These can include an inability to chew age-appropriate solid foods, gagging, choking or vomiting foods, persisting food fads, difficulties related to dental hygiene, delayed development of speech, deterioration in speech and loss of self confidence because they feel and sound ‘different’.
The Waterlase iPlus laser system has been purchased by Changing Faces to be used in a variety of surgical procedures. Waterlase® uses a patented technology combining laser energy, air and a spray of water, to perform a wide range of dental procedures on teeth, gums and bone, more comfortably. This laser system utilises revolutionary technology for precise and safe surgical procedures.
The laser system allows the professional Changing Faces team to perform many surgical procedures with less discomfort, less anaesthesia, and less post-operative symptoms and side effects, than with the traditional cutting and cauterising instrumentation. These advantages significantly impact the clinical environment, particularly when treating adolescents, young children and infants. Comfort levels improve and stress levels are minimised for the patient.
Common myths that interfere with proper care
and treatment of newborns with tongue tie
Myth: Tongue tie does not exist.
Fact: Tongue and lip tie has always existed. Only in the past few decades have professionals become more aware of their significance and impact on growing infants, children and adults and consequently the awareness of diagnosis and treatment protocols. (Brazil has a legislated law to diagnose tongue and lip tie as part of the birthing protocols.)
Myth: Tongue ties will correct themselves.
Fact: They do not. Infants, children and adults develop coping st rategies around them.
Myth: Tongue tie will stretch or tear without treatment
Fact: Yes, sometimes but infrequently and usually after growth and developmental issues have occurred.
Myth: Surgery must be performed in an operating room under a general anesthesia.
Fact: Infants as young as a few days old benefit dramatically and safely from the procedure.