Written by: Jessie

Some of you may wonder breastfeeding can be very easy for certain people, but there …

What is Tongue-Tie in Children?

Some of you may wonder breastfeeding can be very easy for certain people, but there are still a small group of mommies think breastfeeding may not be a smooth process because you face some latching issue. One of the common problem is your baby is unable to latch well due to tongue-tie. I will be sharing an article about Tongue-Tie in Children, the causes and treatment.

What is tongue-tie in children?

Tongue-tie or Ankyloglossia is an issue with children that is already present from birth which can cause eating and speech problems. What happens is that the frenulum, or the small fold of tissue that runs in a thin line between the lips and gums, tends to be too short and tight at birth.

What is tongue-tie in children?
By Gzzz – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=76118868

Usually, the frenulum is attached to the tip of the tongue instead of farther back, and when that happens, it is difficult for the tongue to move around normally. The child will have trouble sticking his tongue out and move it from side to side. There will also be difficulty in bending it to touch the upper teeth.

Categories of Tongue-tie in children

Tongue-tie or Ankyloglossia is divided into four categories:

  • Class One or mild tongue-tie
  • Class Two is moderate
  • Class Three is a severe tie
  • Class Four is when the tongue can’t move at all

Only a small number of infants are born with tongue-tie, and it affects more boys than girls.

Sometimes, it may not cause any problems at all. While others with the worst cases will require a simple surgical procedure.

Causes of Tongue-Tie in Children

Tongue-tie is caused when the frenulum doesn’t develop or form usually. There are no sure reasons what drives this, but sometimes, it runs in some families. Thus, your genes may play a role in why it happens.

Signs and Symptoms of Tongue-Tie in Children

How can you tell if your child has a tongue-tie? Here are the signs and symptoms to watch out for. He may have tongue-tie if your baby…

  • Chews more than sucks
  • Doesn’t gain sufficient weight
  • Takes a long time to feed with a short break, and then feed again for another long stretch as if he is hungry all the time
  • Is always fussy when trying to feed
  • Makes a clicking sound while feeding
  • Can’t latch well

Aside from your baby’s symptoms, you will also have the following symptoms as the mother who is breastfeeding. Your baby is suffering from tongue-tie if you:

  • Are experiencing pain during breastfeeding
  • Have sore nipples
  • Have low milk supply
  • Are having an infection of the breast

Keep in mind that these breastfeeding issues may not only cause tongue-tie, so make sure to check with your doctor.

The most obvious signs that your child has tongue-tie are the following:

  1. The tongue can’t move far from side to side
  2. The tongue can’t reach the upper gums or the mouth roof
  3. The tongue can’t stick out past the gums
  4. The tongue has a V-shape or heart shape when it is sticking out

When to See a Doctor?

If your child is having difficulties breastfeeding and having trouble making sounds, then it is best to contact a healthcare provider. Get the most out of your visit by educating yourself first-hand with the possibilities. Know the reason for the visit first and identify what you want to happen.

During the visit, remember to write down the name of the diagnosis and the list of medicines, recommended treatments, and tests. Ask if there are any side effects of the prescribed medicine and other ways to treat it.

How to Treat Tongue-Tie in Children

There are two treatment options for tongue-tie for you to choose from.


This is a basic procedure that can happen in a doctor’s office without the need for taking numbing drugs. All the doctor needs to do is get a pair of scissors and clips the frenulum. It doesn’t have many nerves or blood vessels, so it will not be a painful process. There might be blood, but it’s just a drop or two that your baby can breastfeed right after the procedure.

Frenuloplasty of tongue

If the frenulum turns out to be too thick, your pediatrician may choose this option where your child will be given drugs so they can sleep through the procedure. Special tools will be needed to cut the frenulum, followed by a few stitches that will eventually dissolve on their own. Some hospitals may use laser where your baby will not need stitches.

Speak with your doctor and seek their best recommendation in your child’s situation. Remember that there are also treatment risks for tongue-tie even though both treatments mentioned above are usually successful. However, it is also good to keep in mind that any medical procedure includes a risk of bleeding, damage to the tongue, and infection.

Complications in Having Tongue-Tie

Not all doctors believe that tongue-tie needs to be treated. Some would suggest treating it right away, while others prefer to wait. However, without fixing it right away will lead to other problems such as gagging or choking on food, tooth decay, swollen and irritated gums, hard time with licking ice cream, and troubles pronouncing the letters d, l, n, r, s, t, th, and z. In the long run, it will affect your child’s oral development, the way he eats, talk and swallow.

Even if tongue-tie in children is not treated, there are chances that it will not affect the child as he gets older. As the mouth develops, any tightness can be resolved naturally.

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