Tongue Tie

So you are probably wondering what a 'tongue tie' is. It is pretty much a condition that a child is born with, where there is a thin piece of skin under the baby's tongue, that restricts movement. This can affect the way a baby feeds as they have trouble latching on and possibly painful breastfeeding, reflux and failure to thrive. 

Tongue tie may have a genetic predisposition, however it can be congenital as well, meaning that a baby is born with it but it is not genetic. There is some research that links a mother with a MTHFR gene mutation to a child with tongue tie. Further research is required to confirm this association. 

If you have been informed that your child may have a tongue tie, there is no reason to worry. There is a simple treatment available to resolve this tongue tie. Firstly, a dentist can release the tie with surgical scissors. This procedure can be done without anesthesia in the surgery. If the procedure is done properly with the right hands, the baby will not be in pain. Immediately after the procedure is conducted, the baby will be able to latch on for breast feeding. 

Another treatment method involves using a laser to release the tongue tie. There is a bit more preparation involved when using the laser, such as safety procedures e.g. laser protective eye wear. Generally, the pre-operative preparation is a bit more lengthy and the baby might become restless. However, both procedures will procedure the same results, it is a matter of what the clinician determines is best practice. 

Once the procedure has been conducted, the parents are encouraged to follow some post operative practices. This involves  conducting exercises to the area daily to prevent re-attachment of the tissue, as there is a high chance of the tongue tie re-occuring. The dentist will provide further instructions on the post operative care on a case by case basis. 

Please talk to your dentist about any risks or adverse reactions that may occur. 

This article is contributed by Dr. Lisa Chong of Pain Free Dentist Sydney (Hurlstone Park). For more information contact on (02) 9558 8988 or