How is tongue-tie treated?

It’s completely normal to worry if your baby has trouble latching, but there’s no need to despair.

For many years, there was very little information available about tongue-tie, but with growing awareness around its symptoms and the difficulties with which it is associated, more parents are starting to seek treatment. If you’re having trouble breastfeeding and you’re concerned that your baby is not gaining weight, consider an assessment — while it’s an issue that often causes anxiety in new parents, tongue-tie can actually be quite easily treated.

Here’s what you need to know about the condition, and how it can be resolved.

What is tongue-tie?

Tongue-tie is a condition that occurs when the soft tissue that connects your baby’s lip and tongue to the gums (known as the fraenum) is too short. This hinders the range of motion in the lip and tongue, causing difficulty with latching on during breastfeeding. If your baby has tongue-tie, they will be unable to form the correct mouth shape to feed and may also have trouble swallowing and breathing. It is very difficult for new parents to spot this condition, but some common symptoms may include:

  • Colic
  • Reflux
  • Gassiness
  • poor weight gain
  • difficulty latching
  • Mothers are likely to feel pain and discomfort during feeding and may have cracked, bleeding and sore nipples.

How can it be treated?

At Marriott & Hand, we make use of a special soft-tissue laser to cut the ties. We choose this method because it ensures that the wound heals quickly and there is no need for stitches. Instead, the wound is automatically sealed, which means there is minimal discomfort for your baby. The procedure is quick, and highly effective.

When treated for tongue-tie, your baby will have full function of the lips and tongue. This means they will be able to latch on and feed properly, reducing all of the issues associated with the condition, including lack of weight gain, colic or excessive reflux; gas; and discomfort during breastfeeding.

When can the treatment be performed?

We are able to perform the treatment on babies as early as one week after birth, until up to 10 months of age. Beyond this, the treatment becomes much more complicated and we will generally need to use a general anaesthetic to perform the procedure. If you have any concerns at all, or suspect that your baby has tongue-tie, please don’t hesitate to make an appointment so that we can assess your baby sooner rather than later. We’ll need a referral from your lactation consultation, maternal nurse, or doctor to perform the assessment.

It’s best to seek treatment early to avoid unnecessary complications, and to resolve any uncomfortable symptoms you or your baby may be struggling with. Our team works closely with each patient, so if you have any concerns about the procedure, please feel free to discuss them with us.

What happens if tongue-tie is left untreated?

If the condition is not treated early, it will continue into childhood and adulthood, often causing issues with speech as well as difficulty eating and drinking. It can also affect the proper development of teeth in children. In some cases, tongue-tie can contribute to poor dental hygiene—the condition can make it difficult to clean food particles off the teeth, which can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. The condition can also lead to the formation of a gap between the two front bottom teeth.

If you are worried about your baby’s feeding or are experiencing pain and discomfort while breastfeeding, please get in touch here. It’s better to be safe than sorry!