If you’ve recently had a baby or know someone who did, you might’ve come across the term “tongue tie.”
Tongue tie is the layman term for ankyloglossia, a condition in babies that restricts their tongue’s range of motion. According to a study published in The Cochrane Library, up to 11 percent of newborns are born with tongue tie.
Most commonly, tongue tie can cause issues if Mom is trying to breastfeed because babies need to apply pressure during feeding. Babies with tongue tie aren’t able to do this effectively. They’re essentially able to get the milk out, but not necessarily squeeze it into their mouths. So not only isn’t baby getting the nutrients they need, but this can also cause Mom pain and of course stress.
Help for tongue tie
Don’t worry—if this is the case for you, you’re not doomed to have a painful breastfeeding experience or have to switch to formula if you don’t want to. The solution: A procedure called frenotomy, also known as frenulotomy or tongue-tie revision.
It sounds intense, but it’s actually pretty simple. The procedure involves a little snip of the piece of tissue under the tongue that’s causing the issue. Anesthesia isn’t even necessary—just some topical numbing cream will do the trick. Poof: Baby should now has a better range of motion to latch on correctly and get the milk flowing.
Frenotomy is quick and easy, plus it’s pretty low risk for the baby, according to a study published in JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery. So you don’t have to worry about any complications such as bleeding, infection, possible damage to the tongue or salivary glands, reattachment, or breathing restrictions.
Does frenotomy really work?
Studies have shown that tongue-tie revision really does prove effective if you’re having latching trouble breastfeeding. However, that doesn’t mean it works for everyone all the time. If the baby didn’t have a tongue tie, their breastfeeding issues could be the case of a simple “weak suck,” which limits a baby’s ability to efficiently suck the milk out, and a frenotomy may not fix this.
In addition to breastfeeding, tongue tie has also been linked to other issues, like acid reflux. Luckily, frenotomy has been to be proven effective in helping with this as well, according to a study published in The Laryngoscope.
How do I know if my baby needs a frenotomy?
Though the procedure can’t do any harm to the baby, the question is whether it’s completely necessary for everyone who is getting it, as experts have noticed a sudden uptick in parents getting their babies the procedure.
There good news is there’s no clear evidence about whether a tongue tie can influence a child later on in life. However, there are definitive benefits of breastfeeding, so it makes sense that parents struggling to breastfeed want to fix the issue at hand so that it can happen.
Of course, it’s always important to speak with your pediatrician, pediatric dentist or otolaryngologist to see whether frenotomy is right for your child.
Have you or something you know experienced breastfeeding issues due to a child with tongue tie? Have you or would you ever get a frenotomy?