One of the hallmark characteristics of tongue-tie is the heart-shaped or notched appearance of the front portion of the tongue. Ask your child to stick out his tongue. If your child has a significant tongue-tie, you will notice a dimple at the front midline of the tongue. This occurs because the restricted lingual frenum has essentially anchored the tongue to the floor of the mouth and pulls the tongue inward when tongue protrusion is attempted. In mild cases, the tongue tip is normal in appearance, but the lingual frenum is markedly short, tight and/or fibrous. In these cases, the most obvious characteristics are limited and/or atypical tongue movements. For example, a child with a mild tongue-tie may be able to stick out his tongue, but not lift his tongue.
From a functional standpoint, children with ankyloglossia may also experience the following difficulties:
*Problems with nursing
*Poor oral and/or dental hygiene
*Tongue thrust swallow pattern
*Delayed and/or atypical speech development
*Reduced speech intelligibility (speech is difficult to understand)
If you suspect that your child has a tongue-tie, I encourage you to speak to your child’s physician, and if necessary, seek a referral to a licensed and certified speech-language pathologist for a comprehensive speech-language evaluation.
If your child does indeed have ankyloglossia, the physician and/or speech-language pathologist will most likely refer you to an otorhinolaryngologist, commonly referred to as an ENT specialist, or perhaps even to a dentist or oral surgeon, for consultation as to whether your child would benefit from a simple outpatient procedure to release the lingual frenum. Following this surgery, speech-language therapy may be indicated.
The speech-language pathologists at Connections Speech and Language Therapy have extensive experience with diagnosis and treatment of tongue-tie.