Tongue Tied

Did you know that the expression “tongue-tied” actually refers to a medical condition?

I didn’t until someone told me that Charlie had it about four and a half years ago. At the time, the news didn’t seem that important, but now I’m questioning that. I guess it’s important to note that we moved after Charlie was about two months old and then bumped around from one pediatrician to another until we found someone that was comfortable working with a child whose medical record is thicker than your average dictionary.

So. . . some things got a little lost. By the time our pediatrician actually looked at Charlie’s tongue he said, “well, since it isn’t affecting his eating, we probably don’t need to do anything about it.” Meanwhile, Charlie didn’t learn to eat by mouth until he was  two and a half months old. At the time, the delay was attributed to stroke recovery or cerebral palsy, and I didn’t think one thing about it. Let’s face it, when you’re dealing with potential hydrocephalus and suspected epilepsy, possible blindness, and lining up five new specialists, a funny-looking tongue is pretty much the last thing on your mind. Also, I was traumatized by g-tube surgery,  so I’m certain I would have rejected the idea of anyone getting near my baby with a scalpel.

three boys sitting on a green bench

If you look closely, you can see the heart shape of Charlie's tongue

But now it’s been pointed out to me that Louie has that same heart-shaped tongue.

So off I went to the Internet (natch. . . I have an PhD. in Google Research at this point).

Tongue tie is a tad controversial–many doctors believe it doesn’t cause that many issues, but a much larger percentage of occupational and speech therapists, and lactation consultants believe it’s a problem. I also read a study where people self-reported about their tongue-tie, and a large percentage believed that it made speech more difficult.

Two babies on a green blanket

Only picture of Louie I could find that shows his tongue--I think his might be worse than Charlie's

Turns out that funny-shaped tongue can cause issues in:



Oral Hygiene

So far, Charlie has had issues with feeding, and has no speech whatsoever. I’m less sure about oral hygiene, but that’s because he’s scary defensive of his mouth. We have attributed all of that to cerebral palsy. Louie? Well, Louie was really lousy with the bottle for someone his size, and he’s had a lot more tongue thrust when eating solid food, and the OT who visits from Early Intervention noticed that he’s not as sophisticated when he mouths things.  When his bottom two teeth came in, they are rotated inward. My Dr. Google research reveals that yes, this can be a result of tongue tie. Makes me think that his tongue also needs some inspection.

I don’t think I’m going to snip Charlie’s frenulum and he’s magically going to start talking, but if there’s something making speech harder? I’m going to take care of that! Charlie faces enough obstacles with his brain injury–no way I’m going to let some little piece of tissue add to the problem. And with Louie? Well, frankly, we have enough doctors and therapists in our life. If there’s a way I can avoid having to add some for Louis, then that’s the route I’d like to take.

Appointments are made–by the end of June tongue tie will have been addressed with the pediatrician. In the mean time, I just have to have a baby and recover from my c-section. Should be easy, right?

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  1. Katy, you amaze me. I imagine you don’t share a lot of your freak outs and anxiety here but I find having one typical child so anxiety inducing, I don’t know how you do it with 3! I admire you!

    • I have freak outs, but I’m really good at bringing myself down, so they don’t usually make it to print. Sometimes, but not usually.

  2. Goodness! You amaze me that you can manage all of this with almost 4 kiddos. Good luck!

    • Oh–I just fake it really well. Actually, we hired a sitter to help with the twins this summer because I’m trying to do a ton before the baby gets here then after I have him, I’ll be restricted on my activities until I heal fully from my section.

  3. Eep! I wish you so much luck and help this summer!

    We found out that my 2yo (almost 3yo) had tongue tie last summer, and that was why she couldn’t nurse (it’s still a sore subject…..none of the lactation specialists or my dr caught it….they said my nipples were too large for her mouth. ARGH). We decided to go ahead and do the snip when she was little and wouldn’t be so anxious about the process. It was fast, and easy and she’s totally fine now (talking up a STORM).

    • I’m a tad sore about it as well because Louie couldn’t nurse and that’s why I switched the twins over to formula. I didn’t want to be breast feeding one and pumping for another–too much to worry about. I wanted everyone on the same thing and pumping for two would have been killer. Maybe fourth times the charm with whole breast feeding thing, right?

  4. Wow! You have so much on your plate and you are handling all this with style. Love you.

    • Love you too, but I’m not so sure about the style thing–my stomach is so huge I barely fit in my clothes right now!

  5. They thought K might have this when she would not latch to nurse. But she did not. So yes, I actually knew it was a real thing. Hope it helps Louie and Charlie to get it fixed.

    • Me too! Of course, only a doctor or dentist will be able to tell us for sure if it’s worth messing with, but I definitely want to hear their opinion.

  6. Two of my kids looked to be a bit tongue tied. Nathan was the most significant and yes, he was a lousy nurser and he has significant speech delays– he also has CP so how much tongue tying is involved really can’t be measured. I talked to a few pediatricians and they said I’d be hard-pressed to find a pediatrician who would snip these days. It was much more common 10-15 years ago but today, it isn’t done very often. As often as it is done (not too often), I’d be concerned that the doc know what he/she is doing. I’m imagining tongue clipping like a circumcision; it doesn’t seem too complicated but when it’s messed up, it’s really messed up.

    It’s 11:30 at night. This is not meant to be informational or helpful. I’m just procrastinating taking my make-up off so I can go to bed….Oh, yes. My daughter, the other child, is doing just fine. If there is some sort of adaptation or compensation that occurs, she did it. Letting the words fly is not a problem. If only she’d stop talking. Just kidding…well, kind of.

  7. My eldest was having trouble nursing and the lactation consultant noticed he was tongue tied at 4 days old. About five minutes later, a Dr. came in and snipped his frenulum with tiny scissors. It took about a second to do. He cried for about ten seconds and then it was over. My friend who is a dentist said it probably saved us thousands on orthodontics later on.
    Who knows.

  8. Micheala says:

    My son who was born at 26 weeks and now has CP was tongue-tied as well. The NICU doctors discouraged me from getting it clipped, said wait and see if it causes a problem. My pediatrician sent us to an ENT doctor, who said we could do it now or wait to see if it caused problems. We opted to get it clipped, quick and easy. We are very happy with our decision, as he now is drinking/eating a LOT better and may possibly reach the bottom of the growth chart soon!

  9. My son is tongue tied, the only problem it ever caused was with nursing, he gave me blisters and the pain was excruciating. Now that he is 14, he is concerned that it may also cause kissing problems in his near future, lol, he wants it clipped! If it is up to me he won’t kiss a girl until his wedding day in 15 years so I am in no hurry to get it clipped :-)

    • I forgot to add that both my sister and myself were tongue tied and we both got ours clipped, I was 9 years old and remember the procedure, the only part that was even uncomfortable was the numbing shot.

      • Kim–you are hilarious! Kissing problems! Thanks for telling me how you remember the procedure–that makes me feel a lot better about considering it for the boys.

  10. Carsyn was tongue tied at birth too! We had it clipped at a week. I didn’t want to take any chances.

    • I think this is one of those times where it just fell through the cracks because we were worried about so many other body parts falling apart.

  11. Barbara says:

    Started a timer for one year of no teasing. Could not do it. Surely you can write a post while in labor.