Understanding Tongue Ties: Symptoms and Solutions

by | Dec 11, 2023 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

As a speech-language pathologist and myofunctional therapist, I have had the privilege of working with patients of all ages, helping them overcome a variety of challenges. One common issue I’ve encountered is tongue ties, or ankyloglossia. In this blog post, we’ll explore what tongue ties are and discuss the symptoms they can cause in infants, children, and adults.

Understanding Tongue Ties

Tongue tie, medically known as ankyloglossia, is a condition that occurs when the strip of skin beneath the tongue (the lingual frenulum) is shorter or tighter than usual, restricting the tongue’s range of motion. This condition can manifest in various degrees of severity, from mild to severe, and can impact people of all ages.

Tongue Ties in Infants

Infants with tongue ties can experience a range of symptoms, which can affect both their feeding and overall development:

  • Feeding Difficulties: Newborns may struggle to latch onto the breast or bottle, leading to inadequate nutrition and potential weight gain issues.
  • Irritability: Frustration and discomfort during feeding can result in excessive crying and fussiness in infants.
  • Difficulty Swallowing: Infants with tongue ties may have difficulty swallowing properly, leading to increased risk of aspiration or choking.
  • Inadequate Nutrition: The challenges in feeding can lead to inadequate milk intake, which can affect an infant’s growth and development.

Tongue Ties in Children

As children grow, the symptoms of tongue ties may evolve and become more apparent in various aspects of their development:

  • Speech Difficulties: Tongue ties can interfere with the development of speech sounds, particularly those involving the tongue (e.g., “t,” “d,” “l,” “r”).
  • Oral Health Issues: Difficulty cleaning the mouth due to limited tongue movement can lead to dental problems, such as cavities and gum disease.
  • Dental Crowding and Malocclusions: Tongue ties can contribute to low tongue posture, which can lead to poor dental and facial development. This results in high, narrow palates, crowded teeth, and bite alignment issues.
  • Chewing and Swallowing Difficulties: Children may experience issues with chewing food properly and may not fully develop the ability to swallow solids.
  • Social and Psychological Impact: Struggles with speech and oral development can lead to self-esteem and social challenges, affecting a child’s overall well-being.

      Tongue Ties in Adults

      In adults, the symptoms of tongue ties can continue to affect overall health and well-being:

      • Speech and Communication: Persistent difficulties with speech sounds can impact communication, job performance, and social interactions.
      • Oral Health: Dental problems can persist, including issues related to orthodontics and periodontal health.
      • Snoring and Sleep Apnea: Tongue ties can contribute to snoring and sleep apnea, leading to sleep disturbances and associated health problems.
      • Myofunctional Issues: Myofunctional therapists play a crucial role in helping adults retrain their tongue and oral muscles to improve function and overall well-being.

        Solutions for Tongue Ties

        The good news is that tongue ties can often be effectively treated, offering relief from the symptoms they cause. The primary treatment for tongue ties is a simple surgical procedure called a frenotomy or frenuloplasty. This procedure involves releasing the tight lingual frenulum, allowing for improved tongue mobility. However, the surgery is just one piece of the tongue tie puzzle.

        1. Functional assessment by a provider trained in ties (SLP, IBCLC, Orofacial Myofunctional Therapist)

         2. Participate in appropriate therapies to prepare for release (oral motor feeding therapy, orofacial myofunctional therapy, bodywork, etc.)

        3. Tongue tie release with experienced release provider

        4. Continue with appropriate therapies to retrain tongue, lips, and cheeks and address any lingering issues related to speech, feeding, or oral function.

         

        Conclusion

        Tongue ties are a common condition that can affect people of all ages, from infants to adults, and they can lead to a variety of symptoms. However, early diagnosis and appropriate treatment can make a significant difference in a person’s quality of life. Whether you are a parent concerned about your child’s development, an adult experiencing symptoms, or a healthcare professional, it’s essential to understand the impact of tongue ties and the available solutions. Working with a team of healthcare professionals, including speech-language pathologists and myofunctional therapists, can help individuals overcome the challenges associated with tongue ties and improve their overall well-being.

         

        If you’re in the DMV area, we can help! Book a free consultation today here.