Tongue-Tie in Children: Care Instructions

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The lingual frenulum

Your Care Instructions

In tongue-tie, the tissue that connects the tongue to the bottom of the mouth is too short. This problem often runs in families.

Your child may not be able to fully move his or her tongue. But this may not cause problems. In some cases, the tissue stretches as the child grows. Or it gets used to less movement.

Some children have trouble latching on to the mother's breast to feed. Or they have trouble bottle-feeding. Others have speech and social problems. If your child has bad symptoms, he or she may need surgery to loosen the tissue.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • If you are breastfeeding your baby, talk with your doctor to learn how to help your baby latch on and suck well. You also will want to be sure that your baby is getting enough milk and growing well.
  • If your child has speech problems, ask your doctor about speech therapy.
  • If the speech problem is caused by tongue-tie, you may want to think about surgery to loosen the tongue.

After surgery

  • After surgery, your child's tongue may bleed a little. You can give your child acetaminophen (Tylenol) for any discomfort.
  • Do not give your child two or more pain medicines at the same time unless the doctor told you to. Many pain medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.
  • If your child has a more complicated surgery, he or she will have stitches under the tongue. Your child may need to do some tongue exercises many times a day for 4 to 6 weeks. These will help improve tongue movement. And they will prevent scar tissue.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child had surgery and has a lot of bleeding.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child had surgery and has signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the cut (incision).
    • Pus draining from the cut.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You think your child needs surgery to fix tongue-tie. Surgery may be needed if tongue-tie causes:
    • Latching on and sucking problems in your breastfed baby.
    • Difficulty making the t, d, z, s, th, l, and n sounds as your child learns to speak.
    • Personal or social problems. For example, other children may tease your child at school.
  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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