Tongue ties are a common condition that approximately 4-11% of babies are born with. Most of the time it is detected because of problems with breastfeeding, but for some it goes undetected. If you’re worried your baby has a tongue tie, there are treatment options!
The information in this post came from the conversation I had with Dr. Madison Baile, DC on my podcast Bringing Up Baby. Madison is a chiropractor who has a special interest in pregnant, postpartum and pediatric populations.
Signs Of A Tongue Tie
The first signs of a tongue tie are usually trouble with breastfeeding. Baby will usually have trouble latching, fall off the breast easily, and/or dribble milk out of their mouth. They may also struggle with gagging, excessive gas, have trouble gaining weight or have some nasal congestion.
For moms, you may experience supply issues, cracked or painful nipples or mastitis.
These signs may also be present in babies without a tongue tie, so it’s important to get checked with your primary care provider or lactation consultant to determine the cause.
What Does A Tongue Tie Look Like?
If you look under your baby's tongue, you may notice a webbing that attaches to the tongue. If this webbing attaches near the tip of the tongue, is affecting the tongue’s movement, or if the tongue looks like it is heart shaped, they may have a tongue tie.
Having that webbing isn’t necessarily an issue, but if it is affecting the movement of the tongue, treatment may be necessary.
How Tongue Ties Affect Breastfeeding
A tongue tie is a band of tissue (called the frenulum) under the tongue that keeps the tongue from moving freely. Because of this, the baby has a hard time latching or has a hard time latching deeply enough to get enough milk.
Because of the latching issues, it can cause you to have low supply, and/or painful breastfeeding.
One out of every three mothers who stop nursing do so because of tongue ties, and they may not even know that a tongue tie is causing their issues.
If you are having trouble with breastfeeding, it is always a good idea to reach out to a lactation consultant and have them do an assessment to determine how you can make breastfeeding easier for you and your baby.
What To Do If You Think Your Baby Has A Tongue Tie
If you think your little one has a tongue tie, it is important to get diagnosed by a professional. A pediatrician, lactation consultant, or pediatric dentist can make the diagnosis and recommend a treatment plan.
What Is The Treatment For A Tongue Tie?
Tongue ties can be released by using a laser to cut the frenulum, allowing the tongue to move more freely. The process is quick, relatively painless and usually doesn’t have any side effects or complications.
After the release, it’s important to do the stretches and aftercare to make sure the frenulum doesn’t reattach. It is usually considered fully healed after about a month.
Body Work For Tongue Ties
Body work is an important component in treating tongue ties, both before a release and after. Seeking treatment from a pediatric chiropractor, osteopath or physiotherapist is important because a tongue tie doesn’t just affect the tongue, it can affect the whole body.
Body work treatment focuses on retraining the tongue to move and suck properly and stretching the muscles of the head and neck.
Does It Need To Be Corrected?
If your baby is diagnosed with a tongue tie, and it doesn’t seem to be affecting breastfeeding, you may be wondering if it needs to be released.
When your child is older and eating solid food, it’s possible they may have issues with gagging or speech. By the time they are adults, it’s possible for them to experience chronic headaches, neck or back pain because of the tension caused by the tongue tie.
However, it may not cause any issues in the long run at all.
If you’re concerned about tongue ties because of issues with breastfeeding, gagging or speech, be sure to chat with your pediatrician, lactation consultant, pediatric chiropractor or pediatric dentist so they help determine the best course of treatment.
If you need help and resources, reach out to Madison Baile, DC. If you’re looking to connect with other parents and get support from me, join the Bringing Up Baby Community where we chat about sleep, feeding, safety, milestones and so much more.
Both Lindsey and Ashley contribute to the blog! Sometimes also with guests and sometimes from conversations with guests :)