Sleep is a precious commodity, especially for new parents experiencing infant sleep issues. The quest for that elusive full night’s sleep can sometimes become a never-ending battle. If you’re a parent, you understand the importance of your baby getting a good night’s sleep.
Today, we’re going to dive into an often-overlooked factor that can impact your infant’s sleep: a tongue-tie. At Bloom Center for Sleep and Airway Health, we believe that understanding this condition is crucial for both you and your baby’s well-being. Let’s explore what tongue-tie is, how to identify it, and why addressing it is essential for your little one’s health.
What is a Tongue-Tie?
First things first, what exactly is a tongue-tie? Also known as ankyloglossia, tongue-tie occurs when the strip of skin beneath the baby’s tongue (the lingual frenulum) is shorter than usual, restricting the tongue’s movement. This condition can range from mild to severe in both appearance and symptoms (the two don’t correlate either!) and it can affect babies differently. While not every baby with a tongue-tie will experience sleep issues, it’s a potential factor to consider if your little one is struggling with sleep or feeding.
How Can I Tell If My Child Has a Tongue-Tie?
Identifying a tongue-tie in your infant can be a bit tricky, but there are some common signs to watch out for:
- Difficulty Latching: If your baby struggles to latch onto the breast or bottle, it could be due to restricted tongue movement caused by a tongue-tie.
- Painful Feeding: Mothers often experience pain while breastfeeding if their baby has a tongue-tie because the baby may not be able to latch properly.
- Shallow Sucking: Babies with tongue-ties might have difficulty creating a good suction while feeding.
- Poor Weight Gain: In some cases, tongue-ties can lead to poor weight gain in infants due to inadequate feeding.
- Clicking Sounds: You may hear clicking sounds while your baby feeds, which can indicate a tongue-tie.
- Fussiness During Feeds: If your baby seems frustrated or fussy during feeds, it could be a sign of difficulty caused by a tongue-tie.
- Difficulty Sleeping: Infants with tongue-ties may have trouble sleeping due to discomfort and difficulty in feeding, possibly some aspiration into the nasal cavity, possibly difficulty with back sleeping, and more.
If you notice any of these signs, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare provider or a specialist like the Bloom Center for Sleep and Airway Health for a proper assessment.
What Happens if a Tongue-Tie is Not Corrected?
If a tongue-tie is not corrected, it can lead to a range of issues, especially in infants and young children, such as:
Pediatric Obstructive Sleep Apnea
One of the significant concerns related to untreated tongue-tie in infants is a narrow upper arch, or maxilla. This small maxilla can contribute to the potential development of pediatric obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA occurs when the upper airway becomes partially or completely blocked during sleep, leading to brief pauses in breathing. In infants, tongue-tie can contribute to OSA by restricting airflow and making it harder for the baby to maintain an open airway during sleep.
Untreated OSA can have serious consequences for your child’s health. It can lead to disrupted sleep patterns, daytime sleepiness, irritability, and even long-term developmental issues. Addressing tongue-tie early can help reduce the risk of OSA and help combat infant sleep issues.
Compromised Facial Structure
Another potential consequence of untreated tongue-tie is the impact on your baby’s facial development. The tongue plays a crucial role in guiding the growth and development of the palate and facial bones. When a tongue-tie restricts tongue movement, it can lead to abnormal pressure on the palate and affect the natural growth of the upper jaw. This can result in a high-arched palate, crowded teeth, and facial structural issues.
Addressing tongue-tie through a simple procedure can help prevent these complications and promote healthy facial development in your child.
Resistance to Back Sleeping
As parents, we are often reminded of the importance of placing our infants on their backs to sleep to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). However, infants with tongue-ties may resist sleeping on their backs due to discomfort and difficulty breathing.
By correcting the tongue-tie, you can help your baby sleep comfortably in the recommended back position, ensuring their safety during sleep.
What to Do If You Suspect Infant Sleep Issues May Be Caused By a Tongue-Tie
In the quest for better sleep for both you and your baby, it’s essential to consider all potential factors that may be contributing to sleep issues. Tongue-tie, though often overlooked, can play a significant role in disrupting your infant’s sleep and overall health. If you suspect that your child may have a tongue-tie or if you’ve noticed any of the signs mentioned earlier, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Bloom Center for Sleep and Airway Health.
By addressing tongue-tie early, you can help your baby sleep more soundly, improve their feeding experience, and reduce the risk of long-term health issues. Remember, a well-rested baby is a happier baby, and a well-rested parent is a happier parent! Take action today for a better night’s sleep for your little one and yourself.
If you suspect your child may have a tongue-tie or is experiencing infant sleep issues, schedule a virtual or in-person appointment with the Bloom Center for Sleep and Airway Health. We’re here to provide expert guidance and support for a restful night’s sleep.
Your baby’s health and your peace of mind are just a click away!
Want to learn more about sleep and airway health? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Sleep-Related Breathing Disorders.