Countless parents describe childbirth as the best day of their lives. But it's not uncommon for parents-to-be to worry about issues that can arise in their baby during the pregnancy or shortly after birth. One condition that might not be familiar to folks is ankyloglossia, more commonly referred to as a tongue tied baby.
What Is a Tongue Tie?
Tongue tie is when a baby's tongue suffers from a restricted range of motion due to a short, thick tissue band, according to the Mayo Clinic. Also known as a lingual frenulum, this band anchors the tip of the tongue to the floor of the mouth. It usually separates before birth and is more common in boys than girls. Why a baby can be tongue tied is mostly unknown, but the condition can occasionally be hereditary. Tongue tie may inhibit a child's ability to speak, eat and swallow. It also affects the breastfeeding process.
If you suspect you might have a tongue tied baby, look for the following symptoms:
- Difficulty sticking the tongue out beyond the lower teeth.
- Trouble moving the tongue side to side or raising the tongue to the upper teeth.
- A heart-shaped or notched tongue when it's stuck out.
Consult your baby's pediatrician if they have difficulty performing any of those functions.
Ankyloglossia and Breastfeeding
For new Moms who've had their hearts set on breastfeeding their new bundles of joy, an ankyloglossia diagnosis may be discouraging. According to TongueTie.net, while a new Mom's milk comes in shortly after birth, the supply only replenishes due to a baby's sucking action. A baby's mouth needs to be able to open wide enough for the tongue to protrude far enough in order to house a large enough portion of the mother's breast to correctly allow the flow of milk.
A tongue tied baby can't open their mouth wide enough to correctly latch on to the breast. With an improper latch, breast milk won't be stimulated for release. The baby's mouth latches on to a nipple instead. This action causes pain and trauma to the nipple, which may result in cracking, bleeding or an infection.
Proper Infant Oral Care
There are so many changes and new routines to develop with the arrival of a baby. One of those is getting your newborn off on the right foot with proper infant oral care. Before that first tooth pops through, wipe your baby's gums with a soft cloth or a wet gauze pad before bed.
Once the little one starts teething, clean the new teeth with a Colgate My First toothbrush. It has extra soft bristles for gentle, yet effective cleaning, and the toothbrush head is specially sized for small children whose teeth are still developing.
Whether you have a tongue tied baby or not, their first dental visit will mark another milestone. You can use that as the foundation to teach them good habits regarding tooth care for when they get older. That means brushing at least twice each day, complemented with flossing and regular dental checkups.