Tongue ties

If you’re a parent of a newborn who is currently in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), you’re likely dealing with a lot of stress and uncertainty. The last thing you want to hear is that your baby may have a tongue tie. However, it’s important to understand what this condition is and how it can impact your child’s feeding and overall health.

What is a tongue tie?

A tongue tie, or ankyloglossia, is a condition where the tongue’s movement is restricted due to a short or tight frenulum, the band of tissue that connects the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth. This can cause difficulty with breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, speech development, and oral hygiene.

 

How do I know if my baby has a tongue tie?

A tongue tie can be diagnosed by a medical professional, such as a pediatrician, lactation consultant, or an otolaryngologist (ENT). Signs that your baby may have a tongue tie include difficulty latching or staying latched during breastfeeding, poor weight gain, clicking or popping sounds during feeding, fussiness during feeding, and gas or reflux.

 

How is a tongue tie treated?

If your baby has a tongue tie, treatment may be recommended to improve their ability to feed and prevent other potential health issues. The most common treatment for tongue tie is a simple procedure called a frenectomy, which involves cutting the frenulum to release the tongue’s movement.

A frenectomy can be performed with scissors or a laser. In some cases, local anesthesia or sedation may be used to make the procedure more comfortable for the baby.

After the procedure, your baby may be able to feed more effectively and may experience relief from symptoms such as reflux or gas. However, it’s important to note that the healing process can take a few days, and your baby may experience some discomfort or sensitivity during that time.

 

What can I do to support my baby during the treatment process?

As a parent of a NICU baby, you’re already well-versed in providing excellent care and support for your child. When it comes to tongue tie treatment, there are a few things you can do to make the process as comfortable as possible for your little one:

Advocate for your baby’s needs: Talk to your medical team about any concerns you have regarding your baby’s feeding or behavior. If you feel that a tongue tie may be the issue, don’t be afraid to ask for a consultation with a specialist.

Prepare for the procedure: If your baby needs a frenectomy, your medical team will likely provide you with information on how to prepare for the procedure, such as whether your baby needs to fast beforehand or if there are any medications they should avoid.

Comfort your baby: After the procedure, your baby may be fussy or uncomfortable. You can help soothe them by holding them close, providing skin-to-skin contact, or using a pacifier.

Follow up with your medical team: Your medical team will likely schedule a follow-up appointment to ensure that your baby is healing properly and that their feeding issues are improving. Be sure to attend these appointments and communicate any concerns you may have.

In conclusion, a tongue tie is a common condition that can impact your baby’s ability to feed and their overall health. If you suspect that your baby may have a tongue tie, talk to your medical team about your concerns and the best course of treatment for your child. With proper care and support, your little one can overcome this challenge and thrive!

 

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