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What is a Tongue Tie?

Tongue Tie – also known as ‘Ankyloglossia’ or ‘anchored tongue’ – is a common but often overlooked condition. It can be seen at birth and causes a wide range of difficulties that affect the sufferer in different ways. Some of these ways may not be noticed until a later age and some will be noticeable right away. Most can be noticed right away if you are knowledgeable enough to know what to look for. Diagnosis and assessment are essential before taking any remedial action.
There are different “classes” of tongue tie and posterior tongue ties can be more difficult to diagnose on your own. Here is a diagram to help:

Genetic Component
Tongue tie often runs in families. Some relatives may only have mild effects or no apparent symptoms while others show a severe impact on structure and function. As this strong familial tendency exists, parents may also notice a similarity to other relatives with tongue tie, especially in the older child. The similarities observed may include postures of lips and tongue, habits of speech, and shapes of the nose and face.

Tongue tie sometimes occurs together with other congenital conditions which affect the structure of the mouth, such as cleft lip or palate. It can also occur together with conditions such as severe hearing loss or cerebral palsy. And research has shown it seems to be more prevalent in boys than girls.

What do practitioners look for when diagnosing?

  • Appearance of the tongue and its movements
  • Maternal factors including pain, nipple injury, blocked ducts or mastitis during breastfeeding
  • Infant factors including low weight, vomiting and gagging
  • Lack of lingual mobility which affects speed and accuracy of tongue movements
  • Eating difficulties caused by poor coordination of oral musculature
  • Dribbling – which is prolonged
  • Dental problems which are severe and wide ranging
  • Speech which is unclear due to several aspects, especially coordination


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What are symptoms I can notice in myself if I’m tongue-tied?

Mothers/ Babies

  • Maternal complaints of painful breastfeeding (but not always the case)
  • Low milk supply/ a decrease in milk
  • Frequent feedings from baby (more than every 2 hours)
  • Colicky baby
  • Choking or coughing a lot when feeding
  • Problems with introducing solids
  • Picky eaters
  • Restricted facial/ skeletal growth
  • Eats only small portions at a time
  • Takes a while to eat
  • Inability to chew age appropriate solid foods
  • Gagging, choking or vomiting foods
  • Difficulties related to dental hygiene
  • Loss of self confidence because they feel and sound ‘different’
  • Strong, incorrect habits of compensation being acquired


  • Persistence of dribbling
  • Delayed development of speech
  • Deterioration in speech
  • Behavior problems
  • Sleeping Problems
  • Dental problems starting to appear
  • Persistence of dribbling


  • Inability to open the mouth widely affects speech and eating habits
  • Always having to watch their speech
  • Inability to speak clearly when talking fast/loud/soft
  • Restricted facial/ skeletal growth
  • Clicking/ popping jaws
  • Pain in the jaws
  • Clenching/ grinding
  • Appearance of a “weak” chin
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Snoring
  • Migraine
  • Protrusion of the lower jaws, inferior prognathism
  • Effects on social situations, eating out, kissing, relationships
  • Dental health, a tendency to have inflamed gums, and increased need for fillings and extractions
  • Sensitivity about personal appearance
  • Emotional factors resulting in rising levels of stress
  • Tongue tie in the elderly often makes it difficult to keep a denture in place

How can I get assessed for a tongue tie?

An assessment is usually a pretty quick and easy appointment. If there is a tongue tie apparent and we both agree on treatment of it, a referral to a professional will be issued. Call and schedule for one now!

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