What is a tongue-tie?
Tongue-tie (ankyloglossia) is a condition in which the bottom of the tongue is anchored to the floor of the mouth by a thin membrane (frenulum), which may restrict the mobility of the tongue. The condition varies from a mild form in which the tongue is bound only by a thin membrane, to a severe form in which the tongue is completely fused to the floor of the mouth.
Tongue-tie occurs in approximately three percent of the population.
How can tongue-tie affect breastfeeding?
Sometimes, a tongue-tie does not cause any problems and no treatment is required. However, a tongue-tie may prevent the baby from taking enough breast tissue into its mouth to form a teat, making it difficult for them to latch well to the breast and suck effectively. Consequently, the mother may experience painful, damaged nipples and low milk supply. Treatments for tongue-tie may improve baby’s ability to breastfeed and help reduce nipple pain.
Tongue-tie has also been associated with future health concerns including: infants with speech and swallowing problems, oral development and dental problems.
What are the signs of a tongue-tie?
– Painful or damaged nipples while breastfeeding.
– Baby often loses suction while feeding and cannot stay latched to the breast.
– Baby becomes tired quickly when feeding.
– Baby has little or no weight gain.
– Baby is not able to touch the roof of their mouth with the tip of their tongue.
– Baby is not able to protrude their tongue past their lips.
– There is a thin membrane visible on the underside of the baby’s tongue.
– The tip of baby’s tongue may look heart-shaped or appear square instead of pointed.
A thorough assessment by a doctor and if deemed necessary by the doctor a Tongue-tie release— Frenotomy.
What is a frenotomy?
A frenotomy is a procedure commonly used to treat tongue-tie. This procedure is performed by a Dr David Easton, and involves using a pair of sterile scissors to snip the thin membrane under the tongue; releasing the tongue so that it can move more freely. There is usually very little bleeding and minimal complications with a frenotomy; the baby can breastfeed immediately after the procedure.
Many mothers will notice an immediate difference in how well their baby feeds and a reduction in pain during the feed. Other babies may take one or two weeks to work out how to use their newly freed tongue and may continue to require support from a lactation consultant during this time.
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Dr Easton has been a GP for over 30 years and has been performing Tongue Ties on thousands of babies during his career.