From eating to speaking clearly, the tongue plays a vital role in our lives, one that we likely take for granted. For kiddos who have tongue tie, seemingly simple actions become much more difficult to accomplish. So, ‘what is tongue tie?’ and how can speech therapy help kids with this mouthy issue? Let’s chat!
A Case of Tongue Tie
Also called ankyloglossia, tongue tie involves the frenulum, which is the thin band of tissue that runs from the bottom of your tongue to the bottom of your mouth. When tongue tie happens, our friend, the frenulum, becomes a little less friendly. In the presence of tongue tie, the frenulum is too short, too tight, too thick, or is still located at the tip of the tongue (it’s supposed to move back down the tongue a bit). Cases can range from severe to mild. Tongue tie becomes a big problem when it affects the tongue’s range of motion. Keep in mind that tongue tie is different from lip tie. Lip tie involves the piece of tissue that stretches behind your upper lip, which is called the maxillary labial frenum. If you move your tongue around to these locations in your mouth, you’ll be able to feel just what we’re talking about.
Fun Fact: A fancy name for tongue tie is ankyloglossia.
Tongue Tie Negatively Affects Range of Motion
Similar to cleft palates and cleft lips, tongue tie forms before your little one is born. The cause is unknown, but in some cases, genetics appears to play a role. Boys tend to get this condition more often than girls as well. Unfortunately, tongue tie brings about other issues because of the tongue’s limited mobility in the mouth. Kids with tongue tie can struggle with clearly speaking, breastfeeding, swallowing, and even engaging in activities like playing certain instruments that involve the tongue. In some cases, more than one professional gets involved in addition to your child’s pediatrician such as an ENT (ear, nose, throat) specialist or a speech therapist. You can count on our speech therapy team to help!
Speaking from Experience
A major complication with tongue tie is that it can make speech difficult to understand. This is when a speech therapist will step in to help. Think about what sounds utilize the tongue’s movement. If you’re thinking about the sounds d, z, r, l, t, th then you’re on track. Make those right now, and see how your tongue needs to move in order to produce an accurate sound. A speech therapist will help improve the enunciation of these sounds, which will help your little one be better understood. We recommend avoiding the “wait and see if things get better” approach. Children can easily develop bad habits with speech, and the longer you wait, the harder issues are to correct. Early treatment is the secret sauce to great success.
We’re here for you for speech therapy, feeding therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy needs! We work so hard to help kiddos improve the lives they lead every day. Give us a call today.