Is your child a messy, picky or loud eater?
Have they had prolonged speech therapy without results?
Do they have a persistent thumb sucking habit?

These issues may impact your child's self-esteem in future and consideration of tongue-ties could be helpful in the management of these problems. To find out more, read on.

Feeding and chewing problems

When the tongue is tied it can cause a myriad of challenges including some of the following:

  • The tongue’s side to side movements may be restricted, leading to difficulty moving foods around the mouth

  • The tongue may not be able to protrude fully to accept or lick foods properly

  • There may be compensatory muscle movements

  • A child may reject foods that are difficult to chew or may pouch foods in their mouth

  • Lack of tongue control of the food may lead it to being more easily diverted into the airway with frequent gagging, choking or even dribbling

  • Food is not as easily cleansed from the oral cavity and a child may want more liquid to cleanse the oral cavity, or they may develop decay more easily

  • When food is not chewed or swallowed properly, a child may have more gastric distress or bloating

  • A child may seem to be a messy, picky or loud eater

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Dr Shereen Lim offers assessment and consultation to rule out tongue-ties if your child has any chewing, feeding or speech issues or a thumb-sucking habit that has been difficult to break

Speech delays and poor articulation

There has not been a lot of research studying tongue-ties and speech problems, however, the poor range of movements has been associated with speech delays and poor articulation. The following is for informational purposes only, and consultation will be necessary to determine if there is an indication or benefit in release.

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In the past, speech perception and language development was linked to the auditory or hearing process.

New research is calling existing theories into question.  It suggests that the way the tongue moves has an important role in how auditory speech is perceived and the way language is developed.

In this study published in 2015, infants were given teething toys that either prevented their tongue from moving or allowed their tongue to move.  Under these conditions, they were tested to see how well they could discriminate between two different “d” sounds that differed in the way the tongue is placed.  The infants were not familiar with these sounds as they were from taken from another language.

The researchers found that the babies couldn’t discriminate between the sounds if they had the teething toy that prevented the tongue from moving, compared to when their tongue was free.  Sensorimotor influences were an important factor, not just auditory.

The study does not prove that speech problems in babies given teething toys.   It does highlight that persistent problems with tongue placement could impact speech and language development. Tongue-ties are one common problem that can lead to persistent tongue placement problems.

Poor range of movements can also be associated with

  • difficulties articulating S, Th, N, L, R, D, T sounds
  • less clarity of speech when speaking rapidly
  • speaking with the mouth less open so the tongue can hit the right landmarks required for good enunciation

Unfortunately, we have some seen some children with histories of prolonged speech therapy that did not make much difference.   In these instances, a simple check to rule out tongue-ties may be of benefit.

Do infants use their tongues to hear - Video

Dr Lim has a program available to children who need to break the thumb-sucking habit which includes the retraining of the tongue

Thumb Sucking

Have you tried everything to break your child’s thumb sucking habit, without any luck?

You may be interested to know scientific evidence exists that challenges the assumption that thumb sucking is a habit purely linked to stress or psychological traits.

Research by Dr Antonio Ferrante suggests there is a neurological basis for habit.  The thumb stimulates an area in the palate behind the front teeth called the “palatal spot.”  This area is full or receptors that when stimulated act like a switch to pass nerve signals.  These signals result in the release of very important neurotransmitters.

These neurotransmitters include dopamine, which is important in balance, and serotonin, which is involved in mood control, memory, concentration and attention, helping to enter deep sleep and prevention of depression.

Dr Ferrante was able to demonstrate improved body posture in thumb sucking children that were trained to put their tongue on the spot.  In children that had tongue-ties preventing this tongue posture, there were no improvements. This research suggests that thumb-sucking is likely to be an alternative to send nerve signals to release important hormones when the tongue is not functioning properly to do this.  It is our observation that a significant proportion of children who present with persistent thumb-sucking also have tongue-ties.

We have a thumb-sucking program available to children who need some help to break this habit.  One component is retraining the tongue to rest on this spot.   It is first important to rule out problems that cause open-mouth breathing, or tongue-ties that restrict the tongue from stimulating this palatal spot.


Contact Dr Lim to organise an initial consultation for a tongue-tie or lip-tie diagnosis and assessment