How a Tongue Tie Can Affect Your Child
by Kacie Bartlett, CCC-SLP
Kids Place West Pediatric Speech, Language and Feeding Therapist

According to the Affiliation of Tongue-Tie professionals (IATP), “tongue tie is an embryological remnant of tissue in the midline between the undersurface of the tongue and floor of the mouth that restricts normal tongue movement.” The piece of tissue connecting the floor of the mouth to the tongue is called the frenulum. Everyone has a frenulum; however, it is considered, “tethered oral tissue” or a “tongue tie” if it is restricted enough to impact function of the tongue.

The frenulum is created at birth, so there is nothing you can do to prevent or cause a tongue tie. As you may suspect, the tongue is used for talking and eating. If it is restricted, it may also impact, breathing, sleeping, and dentition. Children with tongue ties may present with any of the following:

  • Tongue thrust
  • Inverted teeth
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Open Bite
  • Difficulty with certain sounds
  • Gagging or vomiting while eating
  • Difficulty latching with breast or bottle feeding
  • GERD (Reflux)
  • Clicking while bottle drinking
  • Poor endurance with bottle feeding
  • Difficulty with moving food to the teeth while eating

If a child has a tongue tie and it is affecting the function of the tongue, a frenectomy may be recommended. A frenectomy removes the tethered tissue to improve the tongue’s functionality. A frenectomy is also often called a “release” and is completed by a dentist or a physician.

It is also recommended a child be seen by a speech language pathologist prior to the release as well as after the release. If you believe your child may have a tongue tie speak with your speech therapist for a screening. If the therapist suspects a tongue tie, they will refer you to a preferred provider for a full evaluation.