When a baby's tongue does not move as it should, it could be due to a condition called tongue tie. The medical term for tongue tie is ankyloglossia. This congenital condition occurs in up to 11 percent of newborn babies.

For parents who want to better understand this condition, here are three things to know about tongue tie.

1. Know What Causes Tongue Tie

The human tongue is made up of striated muscles that help it to move in different directions. The tongue also consists of a thin strip of tissue called the lingual frenulum. This tissue connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth. When the lingual frenulum is too short, it prevents the tongue from moving as it should.

Besides being too short, the frenulum can be too thick, which also makes the tongue hard to move. Tongue tie usually occurs in the embryonic stage of development. While any baby can develop tongue tie, the condition is hereditary in some cases.

2. Know the Symptoms of Tongue Tie

Babies that have trouble lifting their tongue, sticking out their tongue, or moving it from side to side might have tongue tie. Babies might also have a tongue that is shaped like a heart when they stick their tongue out. Tongue tie can be detected in other ways as well. For example, if a baby has difficulty breastfeeding, this might be due to tongue tie.

These babies cannot suckle properly and instead they might chew on the nipple. As babies with tongue tie grow older, they might have difficulty making certain sounds. Other common problems of kids with tongue tie is that they have trouble licking an ice cream cone or licking their lips. They might also have difficulty playing certain instruments, such as the flute or clarinet.

3. Know the Treatment Options for Tongue Tie

For some babies with tongue tie, the lingual frenulum might loosen on its own. If it does, there is no need for tongue tie treatment. However, tongue tie treatment is usually recommended for babies that have feeding problems. This is primarily due to the fact that babies that cannot eat properly have difficulty getting enough nutrients and have poor weight gain.

Treatment options for tongue tie might involve one of the following two procedures:

  • Frenotomy. A doctor uses sterile scissors to snip the frenulum free from the floor of the mouth.
  • Frenuloplasty. Under general anesthesia, a surgeon repairs the frenulum.

A frenuloplasty is usually only necessary if the frenulum is too thick for a frenotomy.

For more information on tongue tie treatment, contact a professional in Pheonix, AZ.