A physical condition that restricts the use and function of the tongue is called a tongue-tie. This restriction often causes a range of issues including difficulties with breastfeeding, speaking, swallowing, healthy breathing, and overall facial growth and development. On the other hand, a lip tie is a condition where the upper lip is restricted and cannot move normally. It can also cause difficulty with nursing, make it harder to brush the top teeth and can lead to speaking and swallowing challenges in some children.
The tongue and lip are made up of a very complex group of muscles and tissues and are important for all oral functions. While some children may adapt and compensate for restricted tissues, other children may not. This can create major quality of life issues for your child, even if the appearance of the restriction seems to be minor.
If you or your infant have more than a few of these symptoms, even with good weight gain, your child should be properly evaluated for a tongue-tie or lip-tie.
There are many children who have difficulties related to tongue-ties and lip-ties, but unfortunately, these conditions are often not identified until later in life. They can cause speech and feeding difficulties, sleep issues, and a wide-range of other concerns.
If your child is unable to touch the roof of the mouth with his or her tongue when opening widely, is struggling with speech delay, or speech issues that aren’t resolving, has difficulty eating or getting a good night’s sleep, please explore the sections below.
It’s important to understand that, when your child has a tongue- or lip-tie released, improvement isn’t always instantaneous. It’s typically just the first step in treatment.
Dr. Kennedy often gives the example to parents that a newly released tongue or lip functions like a “giraffe on skates.” Imagine if you had webbed fingers released and trying to play the piano immediately. These complex finger movements would be impossible, but with a little practice, your freely mobile fingers can develop the new skills quickly. Just like any other muscle in the body, the tongue can develop muscle memory to function and move a certain way. When it’s restricted by a tongue-tie, the body adapts and other muscles have to help compensate. When a tongue-tie is released, your child’s brain will need some time to learn the new skill.