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Tongue Ties

Updated: Dec 30, 2021

Let’s talk about tongue ties. We get asked to see lots of babies with feeding issues. Many have restricted tongue movement due to a piece of tissue under their tongue called the frenulum. This piece of tissue can cause problems if it is too tethered and pulls the tongue back into mouth tightly. Some babies can have a prominent frenulum but can still have a very mobile tongue. Every baby is different.

Why is having a baby with a tongue tie an issue? For anyone who has fed a baby with a tongue tie they will know it is painful. It is a common cause for women to stop breastfeeding because they simply cannot tolerate every single feed bruising their nipples. We don’t blame them! Another big issue is that tongue ties can cause poor transfer of milk into the baby’s mouth. This can lead to weight loss even if your breastmilk supply is reasonable at the beginning. Eventually it can impact on supply.

Why are we seeing this more often now than perhaps ten years ago? The short answer is we don’t know. There are many theories which include maternal folic acid supplementation (which prevents spina bifida and serious skull formation conditions) , increased pick up due to increased awareness and other environmental factors.

A frenotomy is the low risk procedure that divides the frenulum. Surgical scissors or a laser can be used. Babies are awake for the procedure but can be given sucrose prior to it to ensure they don’t cry or cry for less time.

Immediately afterwards we place pressure on the area to minimise bleeding and then observe the baby latching. Some mums experience relief from pain almost immediately. For others, it can take up to 2 weeks to notice the difference.

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