What is a Tongue-Tie?

All babies are born with a frenulum, a band of soft tissue, under the tongue. If this band of tissue is too think or tight and restricts function, limiting mobility, it is called a tongue-tie.

As a result, infants may experience the following issues:

  • Poor tongue movement
  • Reflux
  • Gasping for air during feedings
  • Falling asleep during feedings
  • Gas or hiccups after or during feeds
  • Poor, shallow latch
  • Leaking milk
  • Smacking or clicking sounds during feedings
  • Latching with gums
  • Poor weight gain
  • Gulping milk
  • Inability to use a pacifier
  • Preference for bottles over nursing

How Can a Tongue-Tie Affect My Child?

Each child is different and a tongue-tie can impact a child in numerous ways. Conditions may include:

  • Teeth clenching
  • Teeth grinding
  • Snoring
  • Sleep apnea
  • Mouth breathing
  • Difficulty chewing food
  • Delayed speech
  • Lisp
  • Dental health issues
  • Speech issues
  • Migraines
  • Narrow airways
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Narrow palate
  • Underbite or overbite
  • Chronic asthma
  • Rhinitis
  • Neck, back, or jaw pain

Tongue-ties and Speech Development

A common sign that a child may be tongue-tied is a delay in speech development. It can be challenging for parents to identify a delay, but monitoring speech milestones can be a helpful roadmap for tracking a child’s language development.

1-3 Months

Your Child Should Be:

  • Smiling
  • Cooing
  • Recognizing your voice
  • Communicating their needs with different cries

3-6 Months

Your Child Should Be:

  • Gurgling sounds
  • Babbling
  • Expressing interest with their voice
  • Moving their eyes and head toward sound or voices
  • Responding differently to varying voice tones
  • Responding to music, such as dancing or clapping

6-12 Months

Your Child Should Be:

  • Imitating speech
  • Saying small words like “Ma-ma”, “Da-da”
  • Respond correctly to verbal cues, such as “stop”, “come”, and “no”
  • Associating words with items, such as “brush”, “toy”, and “food”

12-18 Months

Your Child Should Be:

  • Recognizing more words and names of loved ones
  • Following more verbal and nonverbal directions
  • Pronouncing more words

18-24 Months

Your Child Should Be:

  • Speaking in short phrases
  • Following commands and responding to simple questions, such as “Are you hungry?”
  • Speaking a vocabulary of 50 or more words
  • Pronouncing words clearer than before

It’s important to remember that this is a general guideline; every child progresses differently. If your child is showing signs of delay, contact your pediatrician. Understanding what can cause a speech delay – like a tongue-tie – can determine the help you need. Your pediatrician can refer you to a specialist if needed.

How is a tongue-tie treated?

If it’s determined that your baby or child has a tongue-tie, CO2 laser therapy is the most advanced, quick and safe way to treat it. The procedure uses carbon dioxide to quickly evaporate the extra tissue. The laser sterilizes the area so risk of infection is minimal, and it masks the area so infants are more comfortable. Infants can nurse immediately after treatment.

Your doctor will demonstrate your child’s post-care. She will teach you some simple tongue exercises to help your infant/child learn proper tongue movement as well as strengthen and increase tongue mobility. A follow-up visit will ensure that the tongue is moving well, and answer any questions or concerns. A follow-up with a lactation specialist, speech pathologist or bodyworker may also be helpful.

Learn About Tongue-Ties with Dr. Rosenberg

Dr. Fawn Rosenberg of Lexington Smile Studio is highly qualified and experienced in treating tongue-ties with CO2 laser therapy. She has treated thousands of patients, including infants. Learn more by scheduling a consultation today. Parents may call (781) 861-SMILE or book an appointment online at www.LexingtonSmileStudio.com. Our office is located at 922 Waltham St #202, Lexington, MA 02421. We look forward to meeting you.

About Fawn Rosenberg, DMD, FAGD

Dr. Rosenberg graduated from Tufts School of Dental Medicine in 1985 and received her Fellowship from the Academy of General Dentistry in 1990. For more than 20 years, Dr. Rosenberg has been using a variety of lasers in the field of dentistry. Her credentials have been recognized at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, as well as Tufts University, Boston University, and Harvard University where she previously held staff appointments.

Dr. Rosenberg is devoted to continuing her education while participating in dental organizations. She is an active member of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, International Affiliation of Tongue-Tie Professionals, and International Consortium of Oral Ankylofrenula Professionals.