Diagnosis and Treatment for Babies Born with Tongue-Tie in NSW
Tongue-tie is a congenital condition (i.e. it’s present from birth) that affects a small but significant number of children. If you are concerned that your child may be one of those affected, Dr Jill Orford can help. She’s an experienced practitioner of tongue-tie surgery in the northern NSW area. In infants under 4 months of age, all that is required is one simple snip of the tight membrane underneath the tongue. Sterile scissors are used. This technique of cutting just the membrane, not deeper into the tongue, is safe and suitable for anterior tongue tie, posterior tongue tie and upper lip tie. Laser division is unnecessary and significantly increases the cost of procedure.
Children over 6 months of age are admitted for day surgery general anaesthesia and division of tongue and or lip tie with electrocautery. This is safer as older infants are strong enough to move suddenly if they are awake during the procedure and it is less traumatic for the child.
Implications of Tongue-Tie
Many people associate the concept of being ‘tongue-tied’ with having difficulty talking. This term is used metaphorically to describe the sense of being too shy or embarrassed to speak. But the origins of this phrase come from a very real condition.
Every year, anywhere from 0.2 to 2% of babies are born with ankyloglossia, which is the formal term for the medical condition more commonly known as ‘tongue-tie’. This occurs when the band of tissue (called the frenulum) connecting the bottom of the tongue to the floor of the mouth is too short.
Medical terminology aside, tongue-tie is a very serious condition. It restricts the movement of the tongue and in some cases can make it difficult for the baby to nurse. But in less severe cases, there can still be problems. Some children who grow up with tongue-tie have difficulty making certain vocalisations. In particular, the following sounds are difficult to pronounce with restricted tongue movement:
To that end, tongue-tie is a serious issue with short- and long-term implications that need to be addressed.
How to Know If Your Child Suffers from Tongue-Tie
Depending on the severity of the case, it can be relatively easy or difficult for parents to tell if their child suffers from tongue-tie. To begin with, this is a hereditary condition. If cases already exist within the family, then there is cause for heightened awareness.
Furthermore, problems breastfeeding may indicate tongue-tie. Low weight gain could be taken as a warning, as can fussiness. In many cases, an infant struggling to nurse with tongue tie will also cause discomfort for the mother in the form of nipple trauma. Finally, as the child continues to develop, difficulty fully extending their tongue, or the appearance of a heart shape in their lower lip, can be taken as a sign of tongue-tie.
If you suspect that your child may suffer from this condition, it’s important to address it as early as possible. Even if the child is able to nurse comfortably and is not experiencing problems with weight gain, tongue-tie can still lead to speech problems. The earlier it’s addressed, the better.
Tongue-Tie Surgery in Newcastle
For families in NSW, Dr Jill Orford is a trusted provider of tongue-tie surgery. She has extensive experience conducting this procedure, both in new-born babies that are having difficulty nursing and with older children for whom it is affecting their speech or ability to eat.
If you are concerned that your child may be suffering from tongue-tie, the best thing that you can do is bring him or her in for a consultation with Dr Jill Orford. She’ll assess the situation and determine if treatment is necessary – along with when and how it should be carried out. Contact the office of Dr Jill Orford today for more information or to schedule an appointment.