As I finish a continuing education course on tongue ties, I continue to be fascinated by the complexity of this diagnosis. Most mothers hear the term tongue tie or oral tethers and wonder if this could be the reason for the problems they’re experiencing while breastfeeding. I wanted to give you a few simple facts regarding tongue ties, how to recognize one and what it could mean for your baby if they are diagnosed.
-Tongue ties refer to a tight frenulum when the tongue can not freely lift, cup and extend the tongue well enough to breastfeed functionally
-It may present as a shallow latch despite efforts to correct it, clicking sounds while feeding, breaks in suction on the breast, weight gain issues, reflux, oversupply or low supply of milk, nipple problems, long/tiring feedings, etc.
-There are 2 types of tongue ties (anterior and posterior) and varying levels of each. Anterior ties are more visible to a professional or even a parent. Posterior ties are more difficult to diagnose.
-Treatment may or may not need to include tongue tie release by a dentist or ENT. However, treatment should always include body work whether the tie is released or not. Body work refers to hands on touch and therapy to release tensions build up in the soft facial tissues.
-Tongue tie releases enables function but does not facilitate function. It will take time and patience to help baby exercise and use the new tongue functions.
-Often times exercises and manual body work/therapy can help stretch minor ties without a release
-The baby will need to work with a Lactation Specialist to prefect the latch and exercise the enabled functions after a release, body work therapy or both.
-If severe oral tethers are not treated, speech problems, dental problems and further feeding issues can present sooner or later in life.
If you think your baby has a tongue tie that affects your breastfeeding relationship, meet with an LC who understands oral ties and get an evaluation by a dentist or ENT to diagnose and recommend the course of treatment.