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  • Writer's pictureDr Shifa Shamsudeen

Tongue Ties & Eating Problems

This is a picture of tongue and lip tie work in a toddler before and after , baby L visited few months before with issues in chewing, eating and swallowing.

Children with tongue ties and lip ties may develop eating problems over the course of their childhood. Many times I have parents come in for eating issues and haven’t had any issues with breastfeeding or sometimes had issues and couldn’t get help. .

Unfortunately, many healthcare providers aren’t trained for this and do not check for ties. Or, if they do, they don’t know what to do with them.

Once solids are introduced children have difficulties in chewing and swallowing due to issues with tongue movements. The tongue should be able to move side to side ( lateralisation) and up the jaw and form a Bolus that is then swallowed. . However with thin baby cereals this is not needed and often seen as messy , dribbles all over with the child able to swallow only a bit of it. . Lip ties can cause an open mouth posture , which makes swallow difficult. Also due to poor control the food either gets stuck to the cheeks or even initiate gag. . This makes the child learn that certain foods are difficult to eat and develop a negative relationship. Also they only prefer liquid or semi-solids. . So how to identify if it’s a tie related eating issues ?

1. Child only eats specific textures of food.

2. Child eats with open mouth

3. Messy eating

4. Gagging during eating

5. Dribbles during eating

6. Food stuck on the cheeks requires manual removal

7. Swallowing only after drinking water

8. Comfortable with liquid and semi-solid foods.

9. In older children predominantly pouch in the cheeks make it soggy and swallow. What are mostly behavioural eating issues? .

10. Child refusing to eat a particular food group , eg: vegetables

11. Child throws non-preferred foods and sticks to preferred ones.

12. Child has never been exposed to different textures of food, and are predominantly only on mashed foods.

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