Understanding the Impact of Tongue and Lip Ties on Children’s Speech Development

Tongue and lip ties are common pediatric conditions that, if left unaddressed, can significantly impact a child’s speech development, feeding, and overall well-being. So what exactly are tongue and lip ties? In this article, we’ll explain what ties are, how they affect speech development, and why it’s crucial to spot and treat them early.


Understanding Tongue and Lip Ties

When your child has a tongue-tie, also known as ankyloglossia, it means the piece of skin under their tongue (lingual frenulum) is too tight. And similarly, if they have a lip-tie, it’s because the skin under their lip (labial frenulum) is also too tight. These tight spots can make it hard for your child to move their tongue or lips properly. These conditions can vary in severity, with some children experiencing minimal impact, while others face significant challenges in feeding, speech, and oral hygiene.


Impact on Speech Development

The development of speech is a complex process that relies on the precise coordination of the lips, tongue, jaw, and palate. Tongue and lip ties can interfere with this coordination, leading to difficulties in articulation and clarity of speech. Children with these conditions might have trouble producing certain sounds, such as “t,” “d,” “z,” “s,” “th,” “r,” and “l,” which require the tongue to reach the upper palate or teeth.

The restricted movement can affect the child’s ability to form words correctly, leading to delays in speech development and potential social and academic challenges. The frustration of not being understood can also impact the child’s self-esteem and willingness to communicate. 


Early Signs and Symptoms

Detecting tongue and lip ties early can play a crucial role in preventing speech development issues. Parents and caregivers should be vigilant for signs of feeding difficulties, such as prolonged feeding times, frequent unlatching during breastfeeding, and poor weight gain, which might suggest a possible tongue or lip tie. Additionally, lactation specialists are trained to spot these ties during breastfeeding sessions and can offer guidance and support to parents. Other indicators to watch for include excessive drooling, difficulty with transitioning to solid foods, and delayed speech development. If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to discuss them with your child’s pediatrician or a lactation specialist for further evaluation. Early detection can lead to timely intervention and better outcomes for your child’s development.


Diagnosis and Treatment

Pediatricians, lactation consultants, or speech-language pathologists can diagnose tongue and lip ties through a physical examination and assessment of the child’s feeding and speech development. If your child is diagnosed with tongue or lip ties, treatment may be necessary depending on the severity of the ties and how much they’re affecting your child’s well-being.

Frenotomy, a simple surgical procedure to release the frenulum, is commonly performed to treat tongue and lip ties. This procedure can significantly improve the child’s ability to move their tongue or lips, thereby enhancing feeding and speech development. At The Tot Spot, we use advanced laser technology vs traditional scalpel method. This procedure is gentle, causing minimal pain, and promotes faster healing. Post-procedure, speech therapy may be recommended to address any residual speech delays or articulation problems.


The Importance of Early Intervention

Early detection and intervention are crucial in managing the impact of tongue and lip ties on a child’s development. While we provide gentle, efficient laser frenectomy procedures for tongue and lip ties, we do not diagnose and accept patients through medical referrals only. If you notice any signs of tongue or lip ties or if you have concerns about your child’s speech development, we recommend you make an appointment with your pediatrician or lactation specialist for an evaluation. 


The TOT Spot is a tethered oral tissues treatment center in Simpsonville, SC located within the Greenville metro area. Led by Dr. Ann Bynum, the center focuses on properly diagnosing tongue & lip ties and providing
CO2 laser surgery to quickly and painlessly release ties. Our practice serves patients throughout the Greenville, South Carolina area, as well as Atlanta, Asheville, and other areas of SC, NC, and GA.

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