Short Tongue Tie 

Tongue-tie (ankyloglossia) is a condition present at birth that restricts the tongue’s range of motion. 

It is usually seen by the pediatrician at birth and referred to an ENT specialist or a pediatric surgeon for evaluation.  

A tongue tie is related to an unusually short, thick, or tight band of tissue (lingual frenulum) that unites the tongue’s tip or near the tip to the floor of the mouth.  

It creates difficulty in moving the tongue and may interfere with breastfeeding in the newborn. Also, the mother may feel pain while feeding as the baby will suck differently.  

As the child grows, he/she might have difficulty sticking the tongue. Tongue tie can also affect how a child eats, speaks, and swallows. 

Treatment of a Tongue tie implies cutting the tie. It should be done by a physician who knows and is familiar with the anatomy.  

Rehabilitation may be needed in older patients, as the limitation of tongue movement has not allowed adequate development of the muscles, resulting in an abnormal tongue position in the mouth.   

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of tongue-tie include: 

  • Difficulty lifting the tongue to the upper teeth, roof of the mouth, or from side to side 
  • Difficulty sticking out the tongue past the lower front teeth 
  • A notched or heart-shaped tongue when stuck out 

When to see a doctor

See a doctor if: 

  • Your baby has signs of tongue-tie that cause problems, such as having trouble breast-feeding 
  • A speech-language pathologist thinks your child’s speech is affected by tongue-tie 
  • Your child complains of tongue problems that interfere with eating, speaking, swallowing or reaching the back teeth 

Causes

In normal circumstances, the lingual frenulum is separated before birth, allowing the tongue a free range of motion. With a tongue tie, the lingual frenulum remains attached to the bottom of the tongue. The cause is largely unknown, although some cases may be associated with genetic factors.