An explanation of Tongue-Tie and treatment options.


Tongue-tie is a common condition in which the tissues or membranes on the under surface of the tongue are too tight to allow the tongue to be fully extended. It is a problem which occurs as the tongue develops in the first 3 months of the unborn baby's life.

The cause of tongue-tie cause is unknown, however it often runs in families. It is usually noticed within the first year of life. Unless severe, it does not interfere with feeding.

Many tongue-ties loosen up significantly after 1 year of life, when the baby starts to say a few words and when the lower front teeth start to develop.

Why operate, and when?

If after 1 year of life the baby is unable to protrude its tongue beyond its front teeth, it will probably interfere with the development of normal speech. Under these circumstances, the Paediatric Surgeon will recommend an operation to release the tongue.

There are varying degrees of tongue-tie. As the vast majority are not severe, most do not require an operation. In some cases the parents, or the child, may request the operation to allow the child to fully poke out its tongue for social reasons!

Apart from feeding difficulties, speech problems, tooth decay or difficulty in licking ice creams, in those children who have a severe tongue-tie, there are no associated complications and the prognosis following the release of tongue-tie is excellent.