A speech therapist, Maryam Ibrahim-Maifada, has advised breast-feeding mothers to observe how their babies suck breast while being breast-fed.
Giving the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Kaduna on Wednesday, the therapist said such close watch would enable the detection of any symptoms of tongue-tie as they grew.
Tongue-tie (ankyloglossia) is a condition that restricts the tongue’s range of motion.
The therapist said that the way a baby sucks breast can give insight as to whether or not he or she will grow up with tongue-tie.
“With tongue-tie, an unusually short, thick or tight band of tissue (lingual frenulum) tethers the bottom of the tongue’s tip to the floor of the mouth, so it may interfere with breast-feeding,” she said.
According to her, tongue-tie can affect anyone, but it is more common in boys than girls, and could sometimes run in families.
Ibrahim-Maifada added that tongue-tie affects baby’s oral development, as well as the way he or she eats, speaks and swallows.
The therapist said the two main causes of tongue-tie are either that the frenum is too short and tight, or does not move back down the tongue during development, and is still attached to the tongue tip.
She listed symptoms of tongue-tie to include difficulty in lifting the tongue to the upper teeth or moving the tongue from side to side.
She said other symptoms are difficulty sticking out the tongue past the lower front teeth and the appearance of the tongue in notched or heart shaped when stuck out.
The therapist advised parents to visit a doctor when their babies show signs of tongue-tie,
She also advised parents to visit speech-language pathologist when their child’s speech is affected by tongue-tie.
She added that tongue-tie could interfere with the ability to make certain sounds such as “t,” “d,” “z,” “s,” “th,” “r” and “l.”
She also stressed that for an older child or adult, tongue-tie could make it difficult to sweep food debris from the teeth, which could 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.
“Tongue-tie can interfere with activities such as licking an ice cream cone, licking the lips, kissing or playing a wind instrument,” she said.