Tongue-tie can affect a baby's oral development, as well as the way he or she eats, speaks and swallows.

For example, tongue-tie can lead to:

  • Breast-feeding problems. Breast-feeding requires a baby to keep his or her tongue over the lower gum while sucking. If a baby isn't able to move or keep his or her tongue in the right position, he or she might chew instead of suck on the nipple. This can cause potentially significant nipple pain and interfere with a baby's ability to receive breast milk. Ultimately, poor breast-feeding can lead to inadequate nutrition and failure to thrive.
  • Speech difficulties. Tongue-tie can interfere with the ability to make certain sounds — such as "t," "d," "z," "s," "th" and "l." It can be especially challenging to roll an "r."
  • Poor oral hygiene. For an older child or adult, tongue-tie can complicate oral hygiene — making it difficult to sweep food debris from the teeth. This can contribute to tooth decay and inflammation of the gums (gingivitis). Tongue-tie can also lead to the formation of a gap or space between the two bottom front teeth (lower central incisors).
  • Challenges with other oral activities. Tongue-tie can interfere with activities such as licking an ice cream cone, licking the lips, kissing or playing a wind instrument.
May. 16, 2012

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