Tongue tie (also known as ankyloglossia) occurs when the skin connecting the bottom of the tongue and the floor of the mouth is shorter than usual. This may be diagnosed shortly after birth, however it is not diagnosed sometimes until the baby begins to breast feed.
Our speech and language therapists can work with children with tongue tie to improve their feeding abilities and to ensure their speech is developing typically.
What is a tongue tie?
When the skin (frenulum) connecting the bottom of the tongue and the floor of mouth is too short, this is called tongue tie. This reduces the movements the tongue is able to make and may cause difficulties with speech and feeding for the child. In some cases the child will manage to cope with their tongue tie and will develop strategies to feed and talk effectively. Or as the child gets older, their frenulum may stretch. In other circumstances, the tongue tie may need to be surgically cut in order for the child to develop typical eating and speaking habits. This procedure is minor.
What causes a tongue tie?
The causes of a tongue tie are generally unknown, however it does sometimes run in families. Around 10% of babies born are affected with a tongue tie.
What feeding problems caused by a tongue tie can speech and language therapy help with?
Children with a tongue tie may experience many problems with their feeding that speech and language therapy can help with, including:
- Breastfeeding problems.
- Inability to open mouth wide enough.
- Lack of tongue movement around the mouth and out of the mouth.
- Delayed speech development.
- Short lengths of feed.
- Unsettled during feed.
- Uncomfortable during feed.
- Hungry at all times.
- Poor weight gain.
- Older children may have difficulty with certain foods.
- Low self-esteem as child gets older.
- Messy eaters.
- Dribbling during feed.
- Biting and grinding during feed, causing problems for mothers who breast feed.
How can SLT for Kids help a child with a tongue tie?
Speech and language therapy has several benefits for a child with a tongue tie and their family, including:
- Provide support before operation and after operation.
- Increase confidence.
- Improve speech development.
- Provide advice and alternatives.
- Promote weight gain.
- Promote more comfortable eating for children and the mother.
What would treatment for a child with a tongue tie involve?
Treatment may not be necessary if the tongue tie is not causing the child any difficulties. However, if the tongue tie is causing speech and feeding difficulties speech and language therapy will help the child.
Speech and language therapists use various treatment and assessments to treat a child with a tongue tie, including:
- Identify tongue tie.
- Assess the impact of the tongue tie.
- Identify risks of the tongue tie and manage these.
- Goal setting with parents.
- Monitor child's progress.
- Provide advice and strategies for safe and effective feeding.
- Family support.
How do I arrange an assessment for my child with a tongue tie?
To arrange a speech and language therapy assessment for a tongue tie with one our speech and language therapists please call 0330 088 2298.
A tongue tie occurs when the skin between the bottom of the tongue and the floor of the mouth is shorter than it should be. This can cause both feeding difficulties and speech difficulties. Our speech and language therapists can help manage any difficulties that may be caused by a tongue tie and can provide support to the child and the family.