Tongue Tie Specialist

Tongue-Tie

Katherine has extensive experience and training in carrying out Frenulotomies – both within the NHS and in private practice. She was trained at both Southampton General Hospital, and Kings College Hospital where she currently works  as the Team Leader of a large NHS Tongue-tie service. She continues to participate in continuous clinical governance, access to ongoing professional development, and training. She has full medical indemnity insurance for both Lactation Consultancy and Frenulotomy. Katherine accepts referrals from midwives; health visitors; Lactation Consultants (IBCLC); accredited Breastfeeding counsellors (NCT, Breastfeeding Network, LLL and ABM) and GPs. Parents can of course self-refer.

We treat babies aged eight days to 26 weeks who have a condition called tongue-tie. This means they have a tight piece of skin between the underside of their tongue and the floor of their mouth that makes it difficult for them to breastfeed.

We carry out a small operation which releases their tongue and allows them to latch on and breastfeed properly. We treat tongue-tie in infants aged eight days to 26 weeks that is causing breastfeeding difficulties.

Patients must be prepared correctly. Please follow the checklist on our referral forms if you book an appointment.

We do not treat babies:

  • with teeth
  • that are exclusively bottle-fed
  • for speech problems.

 

What is Tongue-Tie?

Your baby’s tongue is attached to the base of its mouth with a thin piece of tissue called the frenulum. Usually, this piece of tissue is loosely attached, but in some babies it is tight and/or unusually short, holding their tongue down and stopping it from moving freely. What tongue-tie looks like varies. For example, the band of tissue may go all the way to the tip of the tongue and make it look heart shaped, or it may be hard to see and hidden under the tongue at the back of the mouth.

What are the Symptoms?

Tongue-tie does not always cause problems, and many babies can still breastfeed successfully. However, in some cases tongue-tie may make it difficult for babies to breastfeed. To feed properly, your baby needs to be able to lift their tongue up and over their lower gum, so cushioning your nipple during the latch and preventing damage. Your baby’s tongue also needs to be in the right position and come out of its mouth with a thin and pointed tip. Tongue-tie can stop your baby’s tongue coming out far enough.

Tongue-tie can stop your baby from opening their mouth wide or moving their tongue correctly, so they cannot latch onto your nipples properly. This may cause:

  • your baby to become tired and frustrated because they keep slipping off and cannot get a whole feed
  • your baby to become windy because of all the air they will be taking in when they try to reattach themselves
  • you to have painful and damaged nipples, which puts you at risk of mastitis and other infections.

These are common problems early on in breastfeeding, but they usually improve over time. Your breastfeeding specialist can help by setting up a breastfeeding plan and reviewing feeding problems. If you and your baby still have these problems at your follow-up review with the specialist, it may be a sign that the tongue-tie needs treating.

Other symptoms in your baby may include jaundice, poor weight gain and a clicking sound while feeding.

How is it Diagnosed?

If you and your baby are having problems breastfeeding, you can ask your lactation specialist, breastfeeding specialist, midwife, health visitor, or GP (home doctor) to check for tongue-tie. Your breastfeeding specialist will write a feeding plan for you which
you must follow. If you are still having difficulties, and your baby is between eight days and six months old, they may then refer you to a tongue-tie practitioner.

At the clinic the tongue-tie practitioner will examine your baby and discuss with you their feeding problems. They will assess whether your baby may benefit from having treatment to release their tongue-tie. The final decision to have the procedure is yours and your partner’s. We will give you all the information you need to make your decision.

Why does Tongue-Tie need to be Treated?

We offer the procedure to help young babies, between eight days and six months old, who have difficulty with breastfeeding only and for no other reason such as concerns about future speech problems. It is important to understand that surgery is not a cure but a way of making your breastfeeding technique more effective.

Some babies may outgrow their breastfeeding difficulties and not need the procedure, but it can take many weeks of growth for improvement to occur. Some tongue-ties can go away or get cut or torn by themselves.

How is Tongue-Tie Treated?

A simple procedure known as frenulotomy or tongue-tie division is used to cut the tongue-tie. A trained specialist will divide the tissue under your baby’s tongue to free it up so they can use it fully.

Are There Any Alternatives?

To ensure your baby feeds better you may decide to supplement your breastfeeding and also bottle feed your baby, using expressed breast milk, artificial milk or a mixture of both. Your baby may find it easier to feed from a bottle as their tongue moves differently with bottle teats and the milk comes out more easily without as much work. But using bottles may cause some teat confusion for babies trying to learn to breastfeed. Supplemental feeding systems can help reduce this, and we can give you further advice and equipment to do this.

 

Appointments:

For an appointment or further questions please call 020 7206 2625 or Book Online: 

Please fill out tongue tie forms prior to your appointment and bring them to your initial consultation.

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