A doctor with scissors

To Clip or Not to Clip? That is the question.

Many parents ask: should the question to clip their baby’s tongue-tie or not to clip the baby’s tongue-tie.  You can look at a Speech Therapist view on having your baby’s tongue-tie clipped and a few myths.

Where can you get your baby’s tongue-tie snipped?

A pediatric dental office who specializes in tongue and lip ties or an ENT. 

The procedure, called a frenectomy, can be done in their office. The procedure will be done with either a laser or surgically. This is a fast, 45-90-second procedure by laser that releases the tension. Nobody really calls it ‘snipped’ anymore.

Back when babies were born at home with midwives, midwives always keep one fingernail long and sharp. The midwife would take her fingernail under the tongue of every baby right at the mother bedside. Therefore, since this is no longer done on every baby, it looks like a rise in babies with tongue-ties.

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A doctor in the background holding medical scissors used to clip a tongue tie.

Should I get my baby tongue-tie clipped?

This is a million dollar question. 

It is not for everyone to get their child’s tongue snipped, just as not every child should be in public school. Some kiddos thrive in schools for the arts and music but that is another topic for another day. Each family needs to work one on one with a lactation consultant or a speech therapist or me.  I’m BOTH!

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How many babies have tongue-ties?

Tongue-ties affect nearly 5 percent of all newborns. 

When a mother and baby are having breastfeeding issues it is more likely a cause of a tongue-tie. However, when correctly, it is more than likely to eliminate the problems of breastfeeding. Boys are three times more likely to have a tongue-tie than girls.  However, it does run in the family.

Is tongue-tie surgery necessary?

It depends, each baby is different. 

There is no cookie cutter answer for this question. First, each Mama needs to take a look at low milk supply, shallow latch, over producing, a hard let down, and clogged ducts. When these issues have been looked at still your baby is having a problem with getting enough milk or being in the 1% of weight. It is time to go see a lactation consultant or a speech therapist or me BOTH! They will help guide you into the next step to take and what is the best decision for your family.

Do you feel your milk supply is low due to your improper latch, mastitis, clogged duct, bleeding nipples or thrush? Check out my new Ebook that you can download right away with lots of tips and tricks to help along with a lot of printables to help with daily trackers, pain trackers, breastfeeding planner and more. There is a special bonus that comes with a FREE call with me. Check out my Ebook: How to Deal with Pain while Breastfeeding.

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Will my child’s tongue-tie result in language delay?

NO, this will not affect your child’s future language development. 

Language development means expressing their wants, needs, thoughts, and ideas as well as understanding what you say Mama. Even if your child is a late talker: this does not mean it is related to a tongue-tie.

Will my baby’s tongue-tie affect their development?

YES, research has shown a very close correlation between a tight restricted frenulum aka tongue-tie and difficulty with breastfeeding, poor sleep, mouth breathing, reflux, poor weight gain, and overall forward posture.

Will my baby’s tongue-tie affect how they talk in the future?

There is a high probability it might.

As a Speech Language Pathologist, I look at talking in the physical movements of coordinating the lips, teeth, tongue, jaw, vocal cords and palate to produce spoken words aka talking. However, speech includes more than how we talk. It includes articulation, voice and fluency according to ASHA the governing body over Speech Therapists. 

When a child has a severe tongue-tie, you can hear they have trouble with specific sounds such as /t/, /d/, /z/, /s/, /th/, /l/ and /r/. All of these sounds need the tip of your tongue to move, mostly right behind your teeth to produce the sound correctly. If your tongue is too short for right behind your teeth to make a /l/ such as in the word LOVE it will sound more like ‘wove” which is cute at the age of two but not at the age of thirteen.

What does a tongue-tie release look like?

There are two common ways:

  1. A frenotomy: A pediatric dentist will usually do this with a laser but also a scalpel or
    scissors can be used. In children under 3 months old the doctor will not use any anesthesia due to the area in the mouth having few never ending or blood vessels. It will be done in the doctor’s office and take 45-90 seconds.
  2. Frenuloplasty: In older children they are put to sleep under general anesthesia so they do not feel pain. Sometimes the child will need stitches that will dissolve on their own.

What are my risks of tongue-tie surgery?

There is risk to any surgery that is performed on a baby and adults. 

They can include:

  • Bleeding
  • Poor feeding (their mouth now hurts)
  • Airway obstruction
  • Scarring
  • Damage to the saliva ducts

Will my child have feeding problems after the tongue-tie-release?

Yes, the baby’s tongue will hurt, as they have just had surgery.

However, the Mama should be able to see a better latch right away along with better milk transfer from breast to baby. Your baby will need to re-learn how to use their tongue to feed which could take a few weeks.

Finally….

Myths about tongue-ties:

  • Your baby will outgrow the tongue-tie
  • Tongue-ties stretch over time
  • You have to wait until your child is 1 – 2 years old to release a tie
  • Lip ties don’t affect feeding
  • If your baby is gaining weight, there is no need to release a tongue-tie
  • If the baby can stick their tongue out over their bottom gum line, they aren’t tongue-tied
  • Posterior tongue-tie doesn’t exist
  • Treating tongue-tie is just a new fad

Just remember Mama, no two children are alike and no two tongue-ties are the same. Schedule a call with me to discuss the specifics to help me guide you on the right path. It is always good to go see a pediatric dentist in your area to help decide whether your child has a tongue-tie and the degree of tie. Then, decide together if a release is the best course of action for you and your baby.

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