October 15, 2016
Tongue Tie and Breastfeeding
What is Tongue Tie?
Tongue tie, also known as ankyloglossia, affects up to 5% of the population. It is a relatively common condition that is present at birth and can cause a number of difficulties including problems with breastfeeding. Assessment and diagnosis can be made by a range of professionals such as pediatrician, midwife, lactation consultant and pediatric dentists.
What Does It Look Like?
All tongue ties look different. Some are long, skinny and white like a guitar string, and some are wide, muscular and pink. A tongue with a severe tie look heart shaped when extended and the tongue tip is unable to stick out. For infants, it can present itself as lack of weight gain and breastfeeding difficulties.
Does It Cause Breastfeeding Difficulty?
Studies found that 13% of infants with breastfeeding problems had ankyloglossia. Ineffective latch, inadequate milk transfer, and maternal nipple pain can be caused by tongue tie. This is because the infant compresses the nipple against the gum pad instead of the tongue. Some of the signs of tongue tie caused problems are:
Lack of latch
Shallow and unsustained latch
Prolonged and frequent feeding
Clicking, smacking sound
Poor weight gain
Gassy, colic and reflux
Does It Cause Speech Disorder?
There is a lack of scientific evidence that tongue tie causes speech disorder. It does not delay the onset of speech, but can interfere with articulation of words that include “t,” “d,” “l,” “th,” and “s”.
Does It Need To Be Fixed?
It is a controversial topic and if you ask a pediatrician, otolaryngologists, pediatric dentist, oral surgeon, speech therapist and lactation consultant, they will all have different opinions regarding its definition, clinical significance, need for surgical intervention, and timing of treatment. However, we all agree that if it is severe and causes feeding or articulation problems, it needs to be fixed.
Would Tongue Tie Revision Improve Breast Feeding?
Many of the successful cases are anecdotal, and good scientific study is lacking. We can’t guarantee the outcome, but if you feel that you have tried everything else and do not want to give up on breastfeeding, tongue tie revision a treatment option you should look into.
What is the Procedure Like?
Your baby is wrapped in a swaddle to minimize untoward movement. We use laser to minimize bleeding during the procedure and promote quick healing process. Your baby will be upset during the procedure. After the procedure, we recommend that you breastfeed your baby to soothe him/her. You can give baby acetominophen if you think that your baby is in discomfort.
How Do I Care for the Surgical Site?
We recommend that you massage the area after the procedure to prevent any scar tissue to form and cause the tongue tie again. We will show you how to do this exercise.
Dr. Ella Choi is a certified specialist in pediatric dentistry serving South Surrey, White Rock, Langley and Cloverdale in Beautiful British Columbia.
Photo Credit: Jaybird https://www.flickr.com/photos/jstar/2203340563