Tongue is one of the most important organs of our body, both socially and physiologically. It performs important functions in terms of life such as sucking in the first periods from birth, then tasting, swallowing by directing food to the esophagus, chewing with teeth, cleaning the mouth, warming the inhaled air, speaking and articulation. However, the tongue-tie called ankyloglossia formed between the tongue and the floor of the mouth can disrupt these functions and cause important developmental problems.
Near East University Hospital Otorhinolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery Specialist Assist. Prof. Dr. Eda Tuna Yalçınozan warned about tongue-tie, which negatively affects the development of children by causing feeding difficulties and speech disorders, and emphasized that it is possible to get rid of tongue-tie, which can cause serious developmental problems, with a small operation. So how does tongue-tie occur?
The tongue is one of the first organs of the baby developing in the mother’s womb. The tongue, which begins to bud in the fourth week of pregnancy, begins to form as three independent parts. Over time, these independent parts grow rapidly and merge into the midline. At this stage, the tongue is not yet mobile in the mouth and remains attached to the floor of the mouth. Over time, the tongue becomes free from the floor of the mouth and becomes mobile. However, it continues to be attached to the floor of the mouth by a ligament called the frenulum. As a result of the disorder that occurs in this period, the tissue that connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth either cannot be fully released or becomes thick with cell proliferation, preventing the tongue from moving. This condition, called ankyloglossia (tongue-tie), limits the use of language and makes it difficult to fulfill its functions.
Tongue-tie can cause a lot of problems, from feeding to speaking!
Stating that the tongue-tie limits the range of motion of the tongue, Assist. Prof. Dr. Eda Tuna Yalçınozan said, “Tongue-tie does not cause problems in most people, but in some patients, the tongue is in a low position due to the limited mobility of the tongue. This can even cause developmental disorders of the upper and lower jawbones. In addition, tongue-tie can lead to problems ranging from failure to breastfeed, rejection of the breast, feeding problems, and articulation disorders in speech. Speech problems may occur if there is limited mobility of the tongue due to tongue-tie. Difficulties in vocalization are evident for consonants and it is difficult to spell sounds such as s, z, t, d, l, j” and especially the letter “r”.
Fast treatment possible!
“The best approach in the treatment of tongue-tie is to evaluate the problem according to the patient’s complaints and the problems it causes. In many children, ankyloglossia is asymptomatic and the situation can resolve spontaneously,” saying Assist. Prof. Dr. Eda Tuna Yalçınozan continued as follws; “If tongue-tie does not cause any problems in the neonatal period, observation is the best treatment option. Some affected children may learn to adequately compensate for their reduced tongue mobility, while others may benefit from tongue-tie surgery.” Stating that before deciding to treat patients with tongue-tie, attention should be paid to other differential diagnoses that may occur with feeding difficulties and inability to gain weight, Assist. Prof. Dr. Tuna Yalçınozan said, “Surgical intervention should be performed if individuals have a history of difficulties in feeding, speaking and even in relations with the social environment during infancy and childhood, and even after growth is completed. Therefore, surgery can be considered at any age, depending on the patient’s history.”
Assist. Prof. Dr. Eda Tuna Yalçınozan, emphasizing the importance of the post-operative process in order to completely eliminate the effects of tongue-tie, said, “If an imperfect speech is observed, it is necessary to consult a speech therapist for speech change after the postoperative wound healing. Postoperative tongue muscle exercises such as licking the upper lip, touching the hard palate with the tip of the tongue, and side-to-side movements are useful for advanced tongue movements.”