Speech Therapy

Dealing With Speech Defects in Children With A Tongue Tie

A tongue tie is a shortened lingual frenum or lingual frenulum. The lingual frenum is the cord that can be observed underneath the tongue. This cord stretches to the mouth from below the tongue. A shortened lingual frenum restricts the tongue’s movement or mobility leading to a tongue tie or Ankyloglossia.

Ankyloglossia: Tongue is a very important part for producing speech. This defect with the frenulum, as we have read, can hamper tongue mobility which ultimately would have an effect on the speech. The shortened tissue would lead to speech defects, swallowing and feeding problems in children.

Sounds Affected: In order to produce various articulations and sounds, the movement of the tongue has to be complete. But, in this case, since the movement is constricted, sounds like-

d, l, n, r, t, sh, th and z would be affected causing the child to produce the wrong sound.

How to Detect?: Parents need to check for the problem Ankyloglossia if they find any problems with their child’s speech.

  • One thing to do would be to make the child imitate and repeat everything that they say.
  • Another would be to stick chocolates on both the lower and upper lips of the child and ask him/her to lick it off. This way, the natural reflexes of the tongue can be observed.

If the articulation or movement seem restricted, it is better to consult a doctor straight away.

Effect on Speech: Not necessarily, a child who possesses a short lingual frenum has to suffer from speech defects. With early intervention and the training offered by a speech pathologist can allow the child to overcome difficulties with speech.

Although, the occurrence of speech defects is low, there are children who have had problems in the past.

Surgery: A surgery is only considered after a child is put through a few sessions of speech therapy. If the therapy yields anything that would make a surgery inevitable, then the speech pathologist and the ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) surgeon would have to concur.

Although, a tongue tie surgery is pretty simple and with proper cooperation from the child, it can be finished with a local anaesthesia.

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