The influence of tongue tie, or ankyloglossia, on breastfeeding is the subject of growing debate. Restriction of tongue mobility from the frenulum varies greatly among newborns and infants (hereinafter referred to as infants). Controversies about whether an infant has ankyloglossia and which infants need treatment are evident with wide variations in medical practice and a lack of high-quality clinical studies that provide guidance.
Diagnosis and management of ankyloglossia in infants can be a source of confusion and frustration for clinicians and families. Frenotomy is a low-risk procedure that is likely to be beneficial with careful patient selection, but the natural history of untreated ankyloglossia is not well documented. The variability in presentation and treatment outcomes of ankyloglossia indicate that the complexity of infant feeding and tongue development is not fully encapsulated in a simplistic ankyloglossia etiologic framework.
Conclusions and Relevance
Consistent terminology with emphasis on symptomatic ankyloglossia and a uniform grading system, such as the Hazelbaker Assessment Tool for Lingual Frenulum Function and Coryllos grading, are needed to improve the quality of research in the future. The ability to make definitive practice guidelines is limited with our current understanding of ankyloglossia. Additional research is needed to better understand the complexity of infant feeding and the role of ankyloglossia.
Walsh J, Tunkel D. Diagnosis and Treatment of Ankyloglossia in Newborns and Infants: A Review. JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2017;143(10):1032–1039. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2017.0948
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