The lay public frequently refers to ankyloglossia, a congenital oral anomaly, as "tongue-tied." The public often assumes that someone who exhibits a speech impediment may be "tongue-tied."
Ankyloglossia involves the lingual frenum, also referred to as frenulum. Generally, the tip of the tongue is anchored to the floor of the mouth in varying degrees of attachment.
Frenum tongue-ties may occur in both the anterior and mid-tongue areas. Usually, the tighter the attachment, the more involved simple tasks such as eating and speaking will be affected.
Nursing mothers who have trouble breastfeeding will usually be the first to discover the tight frenum attachment while trying to solve the feeding issues that arise.
New Jersey in October 2012 introduced legislation to make it mandatory that all infants be evaluated for ankyloglossia.
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The bill states that ankyloglossia is overlooked, and the effects on infants include problems with breastfeeding. The bill makes mention of other issues that occur later in life such as the affect of structure and appearance of the face, teeth, and oral function.
Long-term consequences of digestion, speaking, and kissing are also mentioned within the bill. Surgical correction seven days after birth is suggested. The bill now awaits further consideration and proponents are hoping for passage.
° by Nancy W. Burkhart, BSDH, EDD