Tongue Tie, sometimes referred to as Ankyloglossia, is a congenital oral anomaly affecting around 4-11% of new born babies in the UK. The problem occurs when the frenulum, the strip of tissue connecting the baby’s tongue to the bottom of their mouth, is too short.
Healthcare professionals have long been debating whether tongue tie can lead to short and long-term health problems. However, the answer remains clear. There are numerous problems associated with tongue-tie. Yet, although Ankyloglossia can be swiftly resolved with a relatively straight-forward procedure, the issue is often overlooked, despite its far reaching consequences.
Take a child in its infancy, for example. At this stage, tongue tie can be rapidly diagnosed. This is because the problem is usually characterised by a baby’s inability to feed, and as breast feeding is a fundamental element in any child’s early development stages, parents are eager to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.
To give you an idea, breast milk is full of antibodies, protecting babies from infections such as chest and ear infections, tummy bugs and diarrhoea. Of even greater consequence, breast feeding also reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SID), commonly known as cot death, and childhood leukaemia. As such, the NHS recommends that babies are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of their lives to reduce this catalogue of ailments.
In the later stages of a person’s life, tongue tie has in many cases been diagnosed by dental professionals, rather than those working within the healthcare community. This is because long term effects of tongue tie include skeletal and dental deformations. In some cases, there have been reports of individuals with ankyloglossia experiencing the common symptoms of an overbite, which is when a person’s upper and front teeth to overlap.
Case in point, there have been several investigations throughout recent years that have supported this interpretation. A study of fifty-seven subjects in 2013, for example, concluded that in mild, moderate and severe cases, tongue tie restricted mobility of the tongue and although not severe enough to cause an open bite, restricted mobility of the tongue causing tongue thrust.
Unfortunately, in the UK NHS waiting times for infants with tongue tie are often discouraging for both parents and their children alike. In 2014, for example, The Guardian reported waiting times up to as long as 84 days in some cases. Indeed, figures suggested that of the 155, 541 babies diagnosed with tongue tie that year, only 9, 256 had operations on the NHS.
As an ENT surgeon with 18 years of experience in the field, it is my view that tongue tie and the various problems associated with the condition are too frequently neglected.
My procedures are performed either in a clinic, or theatre depending on the age of the child. The procedure involves snipping the tongue tie with scissors which is painless and causes very little bleeding. The baby is breast fed after the procedure and the effect is usually noticed immediately, with no antibiotics are required. The snipped area will turn into a whitish spot after one week and heals very well in a few days. Following the procedure, an input from a lactation consultant is always recommended.
For more information on the procedure and for any bookings, please visit www.princemodayil.com or alternatively call 0208 050 5368.