It can affect your child’s feeding and speech

If your baby has trouble latching or you experience pain during breastfeeding, your baby could have a tongue tie. Tongue ties in babies are more common than we think and thankfully, they can be treated if spotted early.

Dr Nidhu Jasm from Thomson Surgical Centre tells us more about this condition.

What is tongue tie?

Also known as ankyloglossia, a tongue tie is a structural abnormality of the lingual frenulum, which is the strip of skin connecting the baby’s tongue to the floor of his mouth. Tongue ties affect 4 to 11 per cent of newborn babies and is often genetic. 

Unfortunately, tongue tie does not resolve by itself. It is a physical restriction due to a pronounced frenulum, which will need to be snipped. 

Any symptoms of tongue tie to look out for?

For the infant:

- Difficulty latching onto breast.
- Gassy due to swallowed air.
- Loss of weight due poor feed volume intake.
- Unsettled due to persistent hunger.

For the mother: 

- Sore and bleeding nipples due to inefficient latching.
- Sadness and frustration due to inability to feed baby.

What are some long-term effects of an untreated tongue tie?

- Poor speech development remains the most concerning issue.
- Breastfeeding difficulties for the mother.
- Psychological trauma for the child who will be unable to speak well or be easily understood. This could cause bullying in school and affect the child’s development.
- Dental issues such as tooth decay or crooked teeth.

How is tongue tie treated and when is the best time to do it?

It is best to correct tongue tie with surgery when it is first noticed, typically before discharge from the hospital or within the first few weeks once the diagnosis has been made. If tongue tie is picked up after a few months, it may still be possible to do a clinic procedure. For some children, however, general anaesthesia is required. 

For babies, a lactation consultant can help with latching challenges during breastfeeding. For older children, improvements in speech can be made with assistance from a speech therapist.

Seek treatment early at Thomson Surgical Centre.

Thomson Surgical Centre
Address: 339 Thomson Road, #03-01, Singapore 307677
WhatsApp: 8666 1646

Photos: iStock

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