Tongue tie is a birth defect that affects 3-10% of new born babies1 , although not all babies require intervention. If your baby has this condition, there are questions you may have.
Spire Parkway Hospital offers a specialist clinic for babies with tongue tie to help and support new mothers from Solihull and the surrounding West Midlands.
1) You want to breast feed your baby but they have a tongue tie
Tongue tie release will make breast feeding a lot easier. At Spire Parkway Hospital, we provide a fast, one-stop clinic with a Consultant Paediatrics Plastic Surgeon who will provide reassurance and advise on treatment options.
Spire Parkway Hospital offers a specialist clinic for babies with tongue tie
2) Your baby/young child has got a tongue tie and you wonder if it will /is affecting their speech development
Children often have difficulties learning to talk and most problems are simple development issues that they will grow out of themselves. Occasionally, they need the help of a speech and language therapist. A child needs to have normal hearing during the learning of speech so a hearing assessment may be necessary between the ages of two to four. If a child has difficulties in later speech maturing with the letters ‘L’ and ‘R’, then this can be caused by a very severe tongue tie.
What is tongue tie?
Tongue tie is caused by a tight or short membrane under the tongue. The tongue tip may appear blunt or forked or have a heart shaped appearance. This may lead to breast feeding or bottle feeding difficulties.
Problems associated with tongue tie
For the mother, it can lead to sore, damaged or bruised nipples and feeding can be painful. Due to poor drainage, mothers can develop mastitis, infection, congestion and reduced milk supply which can lead to more frequent feeds.
For the baby, the restricted tongue movements mean they receive less milk and develop colic, wind and flatulence may be caused by excessive air swallowing.
Will tongue tie affect my baby's speech?
Most tongue ties will not affect speech, however, since they are much simpler to treat when a baby is young, it may be better to have treatment if, for example, there is a family history of speech difficulties related to tongue tie.
How can tongue tie be treated?
Tongue ties can be treated with a procedure called frenulotomy, which is a simple technique that is carried out at Spire Parkway Hospital as an out-patient procedure under the care of our paediatric surgeons, either Mr Bruce Richard, Consultant Paediatric Plastic Surgeon, Mr Charles Hendrickse, Consultant General Surgeon or Mr Doug Bowley, Consultant General Surgeon.
The frenulum is divided under aseptic conditions after applying some topical local anaesthetic with stitching required after the procedure. The baby can be put to the breast immediately after the procedure. Not all babies with tongue tie need an operation, as they can be supported by a lactation counsellor or an infant feeding specialist to get their feeding positioning correct.
If this does not work then infant and mother may benefit by having the tongue tie divided.
Possible complications of frenulotomy
Tongue tie division is a generally safe and effective procedure which helps to protect and support breast feeding. However, as with all surgical procedures there are some possible complications which include bleeding, infection and ulcer formation. On rare occasions, a baby may require the tongue tie procedure to be repeated.
Why do some doctors and midwives think tongue ties are not important?
Some doctors and professionals in the past believed that tongue tie did not cause any feeding difficulties, but this is not true for all babies and therefore a baby with a tongue tie needs to be assessed by a specialist to confirm if that baby’s feeding is impaired because of the tongue tie.
Nowadays, we aim to promote breastfeeding more than in the past, because of the health benefits to the baby and to the mother. Our knowledge on what makes babies breastfeed successfully has also increased. As a result, there is more evidence that the presence of a tongue tie can interfere with feeding. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), for example, has stated that division of tongue tie may be beneficial and NICE has produced a parent information sheet (Division of ankyloglossia(tongue-tie) for breastfeeding) to read.
Treatment decisions should always be discussed with your GP, midwife, infant feeding advisor or paediatrician.
Our tongue tie specialists
Can assess your baby’s feeding difficulties and perform division of the tongue tie, if required during the same visit. The procedure does not require any special after care and you can continue to breast feed. The procedure is carried out in the outpatient department at Spire Parkway Hospital and does not require your baby to go to an operating theatre.
What if I don't have private health insurance?
This service is open to patients without private health insurance and who are looking to pay for their own treatment. A single appointment is all that is usually required to examine and treat your baby's tongue tie.
To find out more information about the tongue tie clinic or to book an appointment please call 0121 704 5530 or email firstname.lastname@example.org