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What is the tongue tie?


The term "tongue tie" refers to a condition where the frenulum, the piece of tissue that connects the underside of the tongue to the bottom of the mouth, is shorter or tighter than usual. This can cause difficulties with breastfeeding and can also have wider implications for head and neck function in newborn babies.

Recent research has suggested that tongue tie may be more common than previously thought, with estimates ranging from 4-10% of newborns affected. Studies have also found that tongue tie is more common in males than females, and that it may be associated with other conditions such as lip tie and high-arched palate.

One of the most well-established links between tongue tie and breastfeeding is the impact that tongue tie can have on a baby's ability to latch onto the breast and extract milk. Babies with tongue tie may struggle to open their mouths wide enough to latch on properly, or may have difficulty maintaining a good seal around the nipple. This can lead to problems such as nipple pain, inadequate milk transfer, and poor weight gain.

Research has also suggested that tongue tie may have wider implications for head and neck function in newborns. Studies have found that tongue tie may be associated with changes in the position of the head and neck, such as a forward head posture or increased cervical spine curvature. These changes may be related to compensatory movements made by the baby in order to feed effectively despite their tongue tie.

There is ongoing debate in the medical community about the best approach to managing tongue tie in newborns. Some experts advocate for a conservative approach, with careful assessment and monitoring of the baby's feeding and growth before considering any intervention. Others argue that early treatment, such as a frenotomy (a procedure to release the frenulum), can be beneficial in improving breastfeeding outcomes and preventing longer-term problems related to head and neck function.

In summary, recent research has highlighted the important role that tongue tie can play in breastfeeding difficulties and wider head and neck function in newborns. Further research is needed to better understand the implications of tongue tie and to inform the best approaches to management in affected babies.

Tongue tie and osteopathy

As an osteopath, the approach to treatment of a tongue tie would depend on a number of factors, including the severity of the tongue tie, the age of the baby, and any other underlying conditions that may be present.

In cases where the tongue tie is causing significant difficulties with breastfeeding, an osteopath may work with the baby to help improve their ability to open their mouth wider and achieve a better latch onto the breast. This may involve a combination of techniques, such as gentle massage and mobilization of the muscles around the jaw and neck, as well as gentle manipulation of the tongue itself. The goal of treatment would be to improve the baby's ability to breastfeed effectively, and to reduce any pain or discomfort that the mother may be experiencing.

In cases where the tongue tie is causing wider issues with head and neck function, an osteopath may use a range of techniques to help release tension and improve mobility in the affected areas. This could include techniques such as cranial osteopathy, which focuses on gentle manipulation of the bones of the skull and spine, as well as myofascial release and soft tissue mobilization.

It is important to note that in cases where a frenotomy (surgical release of the frenulum) is necessary, this would typically be carried out by a qualified medical practitioner rather than an osteopath. However, osteopaths can work alongside other healthcare professionals to provide a holistic approach to care and support for both the baby and their caregivers.

Overall, the approach to treatment of a tongue tie by an osteopath would be individualized and based on a careful assessment of the baby's needs and the goals of treatment. The aim would always be to provide safe and effective care that supports the baby's health and wellbeing, and helps to address any issues related to feeding or head and neck function.

To obtain a comprehensive analysis this problematic, it is highly recommended that you seek the professional expertise of an osteopath/GP, who can perform a more thorough evaluation.

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