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What is Non Infant Tongue Tie?

Written by Boroondara Osteopathy

A well-known clinic in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs founded by Dr Katie Willy (Osteopath)

child with tongue tie

Not just babies that have troublesome tongue ties

Non infant’s (children & adults) are less considered for tongue or lip ties. Infant’s are usually only thought of with regards to challenging breastfeeding practice. The anterior tongue ties are picked up easily at the hospital and dealt with quickly. The posterior tongue ties are harder to identify but lactation consultants, midwives, dentists, and speech pathologists have become more attuned to this lately and how crucial it can be to development.

If a tongue tie is mild enough, a baby can get away with having a tongue tie without having to intervene. Often they have no significant issues as a developing infant. The problems may arise a bit later in development, usually primary school age. Things such as an underdeveloped jaw growth or overcrowded teeth may be an indicator. 

The tongue plays a significant role in facial development and growth.

While child, adolescent and adult tongue and lip ties are certainly not uncommon, they are often harder to diagnose. Infant symptoms are very obvious with feeding (poor latching, sucking with cheeks) and sleeping (snoring, mouth breathing).  Adults can go through a long time without linking the tongue tie to long term issues in the body which means the impact is ingrained and underlying.  

Signs and symptoms of child, adolescent and adult tongue and lip ties might include:

  • Difficulty speaking
  • Messy eating or drinking, dribbling
  • Dental issues- decay in the teeth
  • Jaw growth issues- usually an underdeveloped lower jaw
  • Sleep apnoea

A tongue or lip tie at this stage is usually picked up by a speech pathologist when a child normally primary school age has words or sounds, they cant make. A dentist may notice a tongue or lip tie when a patient has decay through their teeth. The tongue plays an important role is wiping the teeth clean after eating, its something we do naturally, usually without noticing but majorly important to keep out teeth healthy. 

Adult presentation of tongue or lip tie

Sometimes an adult presentation may come with chronic neck tightness particularly through the front of the neck. They may have felt this has always been an issue and no amount of massage or osteo has completed resolved it.

The osteopath’s role is not to diagnose the tongue tie but refer if we suspect one.

Osteopathic treatment before and after a tongue or lip tie procedure is designed to get the tongue and facial muscles as loose as possible before treatment and then encourage more range after the tie has been released.

We work closely with dentists, lactation consultants and midwives to ensure a smooth process to reach the best outcome.