Lotus Healing Centre on Tongue-Tie and Breastfeeding

Tongue-tie, or ankyloglossia, is a congenital oral anomaly that affects approximately 1 in 4 breastfeeding babies. It is generally described as a condition in which the normal range of motion of the tongue is restricted due to an abnormal attachment of the lingual frenulum, the skin that anchors the tongue to the floor of the mouth.
If the lingual frenulum is too inelastic, too short, failed to regress and extends along the underside of the tongue, or is placed too close to the gum ridge, tongue function will be restricted. This restriction may lead to the inability to protrude the tongue, touch the roof of the mouth, or move the tongue from side to side. If the lingual frenulum extends to the tip of the tongue, a V-shaped notch or heart shape can be seen at the tip.
Breastfeeding Difficulties
In order to extract milk from the breast, the baby needs to move his tongue forward to cup the nipple and areola, drawing it back in his mouth and pressing the tissue against the roof of the mouth. This compresses the lactiferous sinuses (the pockets behind the areola where the milk is stored) and allows the milk to move into the baby’s mouth. If tongue function is restricted the baby attempts to remove milk with compensatory movements such as biting actions to hold onto the nipple. This results in extreme pain for the mother along with nipple damage and little milk transfer.
Severe tongue-tie can cause problems with speech. Many of the shapes that the tongue engages in during speaking are also seen in feeding. Certain sounds are difficult to make if the tongue can’t move freely (especially l, r, t, s, d, n, th, sh and z). Dental development may also be affected, with severe tongue-tie sometimes causing a gap between the two lower front teeth.
Treatment for Tongue-tie
The history of treating tongue-tie is somewhat controversial. Up until the nineteenth century, babies frenulums were clipped almost routinely. This procedure is called a frenotomy. Because of the potential for feeding and speech problems, midwives were reported to keep one fingernail sharpened to snip a tight frenulum in the newborn baby.
Frenotomies fell out of favour for many years as doctors preferred to take a ‘wait and see approach’ and let nature take it’s course. During the same period, the rate of breastfeeding also declined dramatically and the majority of babies were bottle-fed. Bottle-feeding does not present the same feeding difficulties for tongue-tied babies that breastfeeding does, because the mechanics are very different.
A frenotomy is a simple procedure, typically used for babies under 4 months of age with a feeding improvement rate of up to 95%. It is performed by a doctor without anaesthesia and is usually brief and bloodless. The baby may need time to retrain the tongue and develop suckling strength. This can be achieved with exercises to encourage extension of the tongue and seeing a chiropractor to help release any muscles that have become tight from the altered feeding action that a tongue-tie causes.
Lotus Healing Centre
17 Ranelagh Drive
Mt Eliza 3930, Victoria
Phone: (03) 9787 8288
Fax: (03) 9787 7367

Secrets To Health

Author: Secrets To Health

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