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The Link between Tongue-Ties, Constipation, and Reflux

March 21, 2024

Filed under: Uncategorized — floridatongue @ 12:36 am
Woman breastfeeding her baby

Tongue-tie is a condition that occurs when a baby’s tongue cannot move as well as it should due to a fold of tissue connecting the bottom of their tongue to the floor of their mouth. There are a variety of negative effects of tongue tie, including challenges breastfeeding, poor weight gain, colic symptoms, and more. What many parents don’t know is that there is a link between tongue-tie and gastrointestinal issues, especially constipation and reflux. Here’s what you should know.

What Is the Connection Between Tongue-Tie & Constipation?

Many parents report that after their child’s tongue-tie was corrected, their child experienced less constipation. There are a few reasons why this may be:

  • When food isn’t being chewed properly due to limited mobility of the tongue, it passes to the stomach and intestines in larger chunks, so it is only partially digested – leading to constipation.
  • Constipation could occur as a result of limited swallowing. If a swallow is limited or not as powerful because of the tongue’s decreased mobility, the wave is diminished, and GI motility is impacted.
  • Patients may experience less constipation because when the tongue-tie is released, a wave of relaxation and stimulation of the vagus nerve occurs. This allows the body to rest and digest better, resulting in more proper digestion.

What Is the Connection Between Tongue-Tie & Reflux?

There is data to support that infant gastroesophageal reflux (GER) is often related to swallowing air. Babies who have tongue-tie struggle to latch onto the breast or bottle during feeding times. This results in a “clicking” sound and the ingestion of excess air. By treating the tongue-tie, babies can get a better latch and seal, resulting in less air being ingested and fewer reflux symptoms.

How Is Tongue-Tie Treated?

There is a simple procedure that can make a huge difference for children with tongue-tie. A laser frenectomy is a minor surgical procedure where the tissue that holds the tongue to the floor of the mouth is removed, giving the child additional function of their tongue. This procedure uses a highly concentrated beam of light to remove the smallest amount of tissue needed to achieve the desired results. The laser cauterizes the blood vessels as it works, reducing bleeding, discomfort, and inflammation. Most infants don’t even need a local anesthetic. The procedure only takes a few seconds, and the recovery time is quick.

If your little one has been suffering from gastrointestinal issues, it could be due to tongue-tie. By seeking help from a lip & tongue tie specialist, your baby may just get some relief!

About the Author

Dr. Maggie Davis is a Board-Certified Pediatric Dentist and Diplomat in the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and a graduate of Dr. Richard Baxter’s Tongue Tie Academy and TOTS: Tethered Oral Tissue program. She holds her Certification in Infant and Pediatric Tongue Ties and Lip Ties given by the American Board of Laser Surgery. To learn more about tongue-tie or to schedule an appointment at her practice in Palm Harbor, visit her website or call (727) 786-7551.

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