Tongue-tie has become a ‘hot’ term in recent times to explain all kinds of feeding challenges. These challenges are very real problems for parents especially mum however; we always need to remain cautious and vigilant when the intervention involves cutting a baby!
Tongue-tie occurs when the thin piece of skin under the baby’s tongue (the lingual frenulum) restricts the normal freedom of tongue movement. Bear in mind that the role of this tissue is to restrict tongue movement like any other ligament or tendon of any muscle in the body. It is for this reason that it is extremely difficult to define a lingual frenulum that is appropriately tight and one that is overly tight leading to breastfeeding issues.
I wish to dispel some myths surrounding tongue-tie, so you can make informed choices regarding your baby’s wellbeing.
1. Tongue tie incidence is increasing
2. Clear assessment criteria exist for diagnosis
3. Posterior tongue ties are more common
4. There is a posterior tie with every anterior tie
5. Upper lip ties come with every tongue tie
6. Frenotomy with scissors, laser, electrocautery or scalpel is without risk
7. Scar tissue in the wound must be broken down post-op to prevent excessive scar tissue formation.
Although these myths are commonly communicated to parents they are yet to be thoroughly studied and definitively proven. As a chiropractor I see lots of baby’s experiencing feeding issues. I’m always impressed by the body’s ability to resolve these complications when the spine, cranium and nervous system are balanced. When this interference is clear the body has amazing recuperative abilities, sometimes we simply need to give it a chance!
My approach in dealing with any health problem is to begin with the most conservative option first and least conservative last. A chiropractic adjustment delivered with skill is a gentle, conservative and totally non-invasive process that most newborns will sleep through.
Feeding problems can cause a huge amount of emotional heartache for parents and we can easily be allured to any explanation that seems to sum up all of our problems. When it comes to tongue-tie there is still much work to be done to fully understand and evaluate its influence. I suggest that parents seek out advice from trusted health advisors, filter this through their own intuition and values and begin with the most conservative option first. Invariably, this approach will take down you down the right path for you and your baby.