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Tongue Tie Speech Therapy

Convenient & Effective Speech Therapy

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What is a tongue tie?

A tongue tie, also known as ankyloglossia, is a condition where the tissue that connects the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth (called the lingual frenulum) is shorter, thicker, or tighter than usual. This can limit the movement of the tongue and potentially affect various functions and activities involving the tongue.

Tongue ties can occur in varying degrees of severity, ranging from mild to more pronounced. In some cases, it might not cause significant issues and might go unnoticed. However, in others, it can lead to difficulties with activities such as breastfeeding, speech articulation, and oral hygiene.

  • Breastfeeding: Infants with a severe tongue tie might have trouble latching onto the breast properly, leading to breastfeeding difficulties for both the baby and the mother.

  • Speech Articulation: As a child grows and starts to develop speech, a tongue tie could potentially affect the ability to pronounce certain sounds correctly. It might lead to issues with sounds that require significant tongue movement, such as "t," "d," "l," and "r."

  • Oral Hygiene: A tongue tie can sometimes make it harder to clean the mouth properly, potentially increasing the risk of dental issues like cavities or gum disease.

Tongue Tie Speech Therapy


What are the roles of the speech therapist when treating tongue tie?

Speech therapists can play a supportive role in the treatment of tongue ties, especially in cases where the tongue tie is impacting speech and communication. While the primary treatment for tongue ties typically involves a medical procedure called a frenotomy or frenuloplasty performed by a medical doctor (often an ear, nose, and throat specialist or pediatric dentist), speech therapists can contribute to the overall care and management of individuals with tongue ties in the following ways:

  • Assessment and Evaluation: SLPs can assess the impact of the tongue tie on speech and communication. They evaluate the range of motion, strength, and coordination of the tongue.

  • Collaboration: Speech therapists collaborate with medical professionals, such as pediatricians, ENT specialists, and dentists, to ensure that the decision to proceed with a frenotomy is well-informed and coordinated.

  • Preoperative and Postoperative Support: Before the medical procedure, SLPs may provide information and education to the individual and their caregivers about the expected impact of the procedure on speech and communication.

  • Speech and Language Therapy: For individuals whose tongue ties have impacted speech production, SLPs can provide targeted speech therapy interventions to address any compensatory behaviors that may have developed due to the tongue tie.


What are some forms of treatment for tongue tie?

Here are some speech issues that may arise when treating tongue ties:

  • Limited Tongue Mobility: The primary issue with a tongue tie is restricted tongue movement. This limitation can affect a person's ability to produce certain speech sounds and engage in oral-motor activities necessary for speech and feeding.

  • Articulation Difficulties: Tongue ties can lead to articulation difficulties, particularly with sounds that require a free and flexible tongue movement, such as "l," "r," "s," and "t." A person with a tongue tie may have difficulty pronouncing these sounds correctly.

  • Speech Sound Errors: Due to limited tongue mobility, individuals with tongue ties may substitute sounds or distort speech sounds, making their speech less intelligible.

  • Feeding and Swallowing Issues: In infants, a tongue tie can lead to difficulties with breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, as the baby may have trouble latching onto the nipple properly. Speech therapists may need to work on feeding issues in addition to speech difficulties in these cases.

  • Oral-Motor Challenges: Limited tongue movement can affect oral-motor coordination, making it harder to perform the precise movements required for speech sound production.


What are some common tongue tie speech therapy techniques?

Speech therapy techniques for individuals with tongue ties focus on improving speech sound production, articulation, and oral motor coordination. Here are some common techniques that speech therapists might use to address speech difficulties associated with tongue ties:

  • Tongue Mobility Exercises: These exercises help improve the range of motion and flexibility of the tongue. The goal is to gradually increase the tongue's ability to move freely for accurate articulation. Activities may involve touching specific areas of the mouth, tongue stretching exercises, and lateral tongue movements.

  • Tongue Placement Practice: Speech therapists work with individuals to teach proper tongue placement for different speech sounds. Visual and tactile cues may be used to guide the correct positioning of the tongue within the oral cavity.

  • Articulation Drills: Targeted practice of specific speech sounds that are challenging due to the tongue tie can help the individual develop accurate articulation patterns. This involves practicing the correct tongue movements and placements.

  • Strengthening Exercises: Oral muscle strength is important for clear speech production. Speech therapists might provide exercises that involve blowing, sucking, or pressing the tongue against various surfaces to strengthen the tongue muscles.



What are the benefits of speech therapy for tongue tie?

Speech therapy can be very beneficial for individuals with tongue ties. Here are some of the benefits of speech therapy for individuals with tongue ties:

  • Improved Articulation: Tongue ties can affect the movement of the tongue, making it difficult to produce certain speech sounds accurately. Speech therapy can help individuals learn proper tongue placement and movement for clear articulation of sounds.

  • Enhanced Pronunciation: Tongue tie can lead to difficulties in pronouncing certain sounds like "l," "r," "t," and "d." Speech therapists work on specific sound production, helping individuals overcome pronunciation issues.

  • Phonological Development: Tongue ties may lead to patterns of speech errors and substitutions. Speech therapy can address these phonological patterns, helping individuals acquire age-appropriate speech sound development.

  • Enhanced Speech Intelligibility: Clearer articulation and improved speech sound production resulting from speech therapy can lead to increased speech intelligibility, making it easier for others to understand the individual's speech.

  • Oral Motor Coordination: Individuals with tongue ties may struggle with oral motor coordination. Speech therapy exercises and techniques can help improve tongue and oral muscle strength, flexibility, and coordination.

  • Boosted Confidence: Speech difficulties associated with tongue tie can sometimes lead to self-esteem issues, especially in children. Speech therapy can boost confidence by providing tools to overcome speech challenges.

  • Clearer Communication: Effective communication is crucial in daily life. Speech therapy helps individuals communicate more effectively, reducing misunderstandings and improving interactions with others.

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