28 answers

Tongue Clipping, Tongue Tied, Just Plain Speech Problems.

My son had speech problems. They were noticeable from his first words on but he was put in the speech program at his school right away and now in first grade they say this will be his final year! YAY is all I could think

My daughter also has speech problems. So I figure this is just the way my family is. We just all have speech problems. For that matter of my 6 siblings nearly all of them were in speech therapy as well during their elementary years.

So I go to the yearly meeting to discuss my children's prognosis and the schools plans. Well they tell me how great my son is doing. Then it turns rather somber when it's time for my daughters discussion. They put a laundry list of problems she has in front of me. It's so extensive it covers the entire page. My son had 5 or 6 at most in kindergarten... certainly not a page. They tell me the reason is because she needs her tongue clipped. Basically her Frenulum is connected too much to the bottom of her mouth. It use to be rather normal for this procedure to be done on infants instantly if a problem was seen but now they are just leaving it be more than not and doing a wait and see kind of approach. Well apparently she is one of the ones they should have done. So apparently my daughters is so bad that it is causing major speech problems. They tell me gently that she needs to have this done.

Well to me this sounds barbaric. Clipping my daughters tongue as if she is a dog or something. So I tell them no, so does my husband. They gently try and tell me that it really needs done and it is an out patient procedure that is done with a local. We stand by no. So I then ask them to work with her for a year and see how she does then we'll revisit this topic next year if she hasn't improved. They agree to this.

Well one of my sister's is a very seasoned nurse and the other a principle. They both tell me I'm wasting my time and to have this done. She'll have a wasted year of Speech Therapy because this just needs done.

I'm confused now. I really trust my sister who is a principle and she's seen this alot and seen great improvement after it has been done, but the other half of me says this is barbaric and they should find some way to help her around her "disability" instead of cutting her tongue away from her mouth. I mean that just sounds horrible and painful.

I need other mama's help. I’m much too close to this. Would you do this to your child? And If you have how bad was it on the child, and were their drastic improvements like everyone paints it? Thanks everyone!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Well after an entire year of trying speech instead of the surgery it wasn't enough so we went ahead with it. It is the beginning of the school year so we will have to see how things go. I'm hoping for the best.

Featured Answers

My brother had speach issues when he was little. Actually, he even had trouble talking much at all. He was about 4 or 5 when the doctors/teachers suggested that he get his tongue clipped. It was quick. AND HE HASN"T STOPPED TALKING SINCE! LOL. It helped immediately and he became an outgoing talkative little boy!

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I was one of those kids who needed their frenulum clipped, but didn't have it done. I endured teasing because of my speech and frustration because people couldn't always understand me. When I was a Junior in High School, I had my wisdom teeth removed and the doctor clipped it then. At that point, repairing my speech was very difficult because I was so old. I had to do daily tongue exercises that were quite painful. My speech improved to the point that people don't really notice very often, but I still don't have a lot of mobility in my tongue.

If that procedure had been done when I was little, I could have avoided years of teasing and frustration. How is that barbaric? It's a surgical procedure to correct a medical problem. Is it barbaric to correct a cleft pallet if the child can't drink or eat normally? Is it barbaric to have tonsils removed if the child is constantly sick? I can say I have walked in your daughter's shoes. Please seriously consider having this done.


2 moms found this helpful

I have twin brothers who struggled for years with saying their R's. It was getting worse, and becoming very frustrating for them, as they had no other problems. When they finally went in to have it looked at, turns out they were tongue-tied (just like your daughter, though not as much as her). Here are the basics:

The skin below the tongue is sometimes too tight, or extends too far along the bottom of the tongue. When this happens, the tongues is physically incapable of moving certain ways to make certain sounds; no amount of therapy can change this. The tongue is tied down.

All my brothers did was go in to the doctor, and he used a laser to clip the extra skin. Their tongues were hardly sore, and after the first day there was no pain whatsoever. Now they can say their R's just fine, and are very, very happy.

Clipping the tongue does not mean cutting her tongue away from her mouth. The extra skin/taut skin is only clipped back to the point of a normal, un-tied tongue. No more. This gives the tongue the mobility to move as it should.

Think about this: if someone is hurt, and they end up with extra scar tissue that inhibits their ability to move, the logical thing would be to surgically correct it so that they would have natural mobility returned to them. This is a simple thing to correct, and I promise you, the doctor will not be doing anything barbaric to your daughter's mouth.

Your daughter is not disabled; she has skin that is too tight or that grew too far along the underside of her tongue. If she has the procedure, she will talk as well as anyone.

I would advise you to go ahead and have the procedure. It will save your daughter a year of frustration, and you time and expense.

Go with the laser procedure, too. She might be a little sore the first day, but nothing more. The pain is minimal with a laser, and the healing is super, super fast.

I hope this eases and calms your mind. My brothers were thrilled to have it done, and highly recommend it.

God bless!

1 mom found this helpful

If you have a good relationship with your daughter's doctor, I would talk to him/her about the problem and your concerns. They can help you understand the medical side and how "barbaric" this may or may not be.

1 mom found this helpful

Did you have your son circumcised? I feel that that is a barbaric procedure. It is a custom with the same as baby boys have blue items and baby girls have pink. There is no medical reason for a circumcision, it is a very painful experience for a baby boy yet they are done every day all over the world.
On the other hand having your daughter's tongue clipped will allow her to speak more clearly and who knows what else. The tongue is used for chewing and swallowing as well as speach. Since this is the only way you have ever known your daughter you may not be aware of all the ways she is effected by the fact that her tongue is tied. I would get it done as soon as possible.

1 mom found this helpful

H., the mother bear in you says no; BUTTTTT...... go ahead and have it done. It is a VERY SIMPLE procedure. Very little pain, just some discomfort. I would comparable the discomfort to the child bitting the tongue. VERY VERY simple. I think dental work is more tramatic than a frenulum clipping; even if the clipping is a grade three tie that is clipped. The trama of having her speech delayed, other people having problems understanding her and her being teased by children later will be MUCH more tramatic. TRUST ME! I have seen kids isolated and not have many friends because they have speech problems. Save her this, have it done so PHYSICALLY she has time to learn to form the words. If you wait, you are putting her a year behind the 8 ball and getting her to the point that kids start to tease her. The speech may get a little better with one year of therapy, but it will never be fixed with one year. "Why cover the mole with make-up when you can have it removed?" Just a little different way of looking at it. Now, the children in kindergarten are just a couple years too young, but teasing WILL happen. Less than two minutes of pain beats "a year" of delay. If she goes through a year of speech, she gets a little better and you have it done later then you are now a year behind on speech. Once it is clipped she has to start all over because they will have to teach her to do things with her tongue that is not physically possible for them to teach her now, because she can not physically do it.
Sometimes in life we have to put our kids through things to make them better. TRUST ME..... We have been through the gament of procedures with one of mine. It truly is NOT a big deal. If you are really worried, they can use a little nitrous and/or lidocaine; but I say go for it.
It is too bad that your nurses and peds did not catch it in the hospital at birth. If you breastfeed I am sure you had to have problems if it is too bad. Many times doctors say just wait and see; because many ties will tear on it's own within the first 2 years, but then if it does not this is what the parents have to go through; so SORRY.... Trust me though, the issues later are bigger than the procedure issue. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I think Shellie K and Pam W have offered some excellent advice, and it sounds like your sisters have a lot of experience also.
I'd like to point out that the difference between clipping a frenulum and docking a tail (I suppose that's the procedure that you refer to when you mention dogs) is that docking tails involves the removal of a normal healthy body part and is done for purely aesthetic reasons. Clipping the frenulum is a surgical correction of a birth defect. You don't seem to appreciate the fact that your daughter has a birth defect; it's not normal healthy anatomy. Fortunately, this is easily corrected with a little snip. I recommend getting a second opinion to make sure that your daughter truly has a short frenulum, and if so, to go ahead with the procedure. Maybe that won't solve all the speech issues (you said that your whole family has had problems), but if there's anything you can do to make it easier for your daughter to communicate normally, why not do it?
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

My son is six now and has been in speech since he was 3 1/2 and so far he is still working on the M, B, P, G and he is getting no were and it has been a waste of time in my opinion. I am looking for a doctor so they can cut his tongue. He has had kids make fun of the way he talk and he is being held back in school because of this so i am for it.

All three of my kids had to have this done in the first year. It was really quick, and they were fine within minutes. None of them have speech problems now (the oldest is seven), and nothing seems unusual about their tongues. They just clip it a little bit, so it ends up looking like a normal connection. We were pretty freaked out about the first one, but it turned out to be no big deal, and we acted quickly with the other two. This seems to be a minor thing to have done if it would help her so much.

you might just want to get a real drs,opinion...that would be my 1st step...a dr can look an see if thats actually the problem-and if it is-have it done so your babygirl doesnt go thru life trying to talk normal....

Do what you feel is right for you. I spent 10 years in speech therapy, did I like it but my parent where like you. If you still had the procedure done she will stilll need therapy. I would first talk to a physician and then another speech therapist outside of the school district. Always get a second opinion before making any decision. If it was me, no way I would do it. It may take her a little longer with therapy but invasive procedures just aren't my thing.

My brother had speach issues when he was little. Actually, he even had trouble talking much at all. He was about 4 or 5 when the doctors/teachers suggested that he get his tongue clipped. It was quick. AND HE HASN"T STOPPED TALKING SINCE! LOL. It helped immediately and he became an outgoing talkative little boy!

First of all, take your daughter to her doctor! That should always be your first step with something like this -- find out what your doctor thinks, and ask him/her all your questions.

Second, rest assured that it's not a big-deal surgery. My son had it done when he was 7 because it was affecting his teeth -- it was recommended by the dentist or the orthodontist (I forget which). He went in, had it done, and was totally fine the next day. No trauma for me when it was recommended, no trauma for my son when it was done.

It will be okay. I think helping her with her speech is really important, and it will be worth it.

The first step is to obtain an assessment from a private speech-language pathologist (SLP). Your local children's hospital would be a good place to start. This is far too important to rely on the school's non-medical opinion.

An SLP will assess your daughter's speech development (articulation), oral hygiene, eating/digestion, the appearance of the tongue, range of motion of the tongue, and consideration will be given to self esteem issues your daughter may have or develop based on the above.

Lingual frenectomy and lingual frenotomy are different procedures. Lingual frenotomy is often performed on newborns and neonates with tongue-tie to enable them to latch and suckle. Lingual frenotomy is sometimes referred to as "tongue clipping." It is done with a local anaesthetic.

Tongue tie surgery can involve more than just a simple clipping or a quick snip, but may involve tissue resection under general anaesthetic. It is therefore not recommended unless there is a good justification for doing it.

The decision to proceed is arrived at through consultation between you and your husband, the SLP and the surgeon (and in some cases, your daughter's pediatrican).

You may wish to seek two SLP opinions to help make your decision whether or not to proceed with tongue tie surgery.

The school cannot deny your child speech therapy if you decide not to proceed with the surgery (as long as she continues to qualify for the service). In conjunction with therapy at school, you may wish to obtain speech services through a private source. (This is often paid for by your health insurance).

Whatever you decide, it is important to remember that you and your husband are experts when it comes to your daughter, and you will be a part of her life forever. You and your husband, as her parents, have a right, as experts on our own child, to pursue supports and services for her to successfully achieve her goals. You will always have far longer and greater responsibility, and vested interest in her future, than any institution or professional.

H. like you our family is conflicted with this subject. Myself and our 4 year daughter are tongue tied. Our 4 yr. old does not have a speech problem but our dentist and Ear Nose and Throat doc have both said to have it done. We also said no. I have made it through to adulthood without problems . My daughter and I are the family joke because everyone else can touch their noses with their tongues. On the flip side I worked as a dental assistant for many years and can tell you it is an easy procedure and heals very quickly they are not cutting her tongue just the little piece of skin that connects it to the floor of the mouth. I suppose if it interfered with my daughters speech and eating I would have said yes knowing that it is an easy procedure. Good luck , I hope this helped a little.

My youngest son has this same issue. He has had speech issues since he was 2. He would plain just not speak. I immediately got him into a speech program and he has improved dramatically. The doctors noticed his tounge issue when he was first born and told me that it MAY be a problem. We have held off on doing anything about it. He will be 5 in March. I still hear significant speech differences between him and other kids his age.
You have several different opinions on the table, how about a doctors opinion? Or a specialist/ ENT?

In my opinion, I would not hesitate to get it done. There are alot of surgeries we do for ourselves and our children for different reasons. I have another son (6) that has had ear tubes in his ears. He got them in a couple of years ago. He is still complaining of not being able to hear when talking on the phone. SO, I will be seeing what I can find out about why he can not hear very well. Perhaps another set of ear tubes is necessary.

You are doing your research which is excellent. I think it will encourage me to do some more online research too. I would check with your pediatrician. Kids can be harsh though and if this can assist your daughter and make it a bit easier to talk, it may be worth it.

Thoughts and prayers are with you while you make this difficult decision. Know that I am there as well.

From the teacher standpoint I've also seen a lot of improvement when this was done on a child who was in another class. The boy was younger than my classroom so I never taught him before I left teaching to be a SAHM. So yes, the improvement will come with the surgery. A friend that I used to teach with has since gone into day care management and she too has seen some pretty extreme improvement after a toddler had it done.

From the parent standpoint.. I totally agree with you! Its so hard to contemplate the idea of someone doing that to my baby. My son is having surgery for hypospadia in late February/early march and even though that's definitely necessary (though its not life threatening, its kind of a quality of life kind of thing) its hard to contemplate. As a Mom I know how you feel.

They can't force you to do it but do talk to a doctor/specialist or whoever you would need to see and just hear what they have to say about it. Gather information and make the best decision you can.

I am facing the same thing, my daughter is now five. Her speech is not bad, only a few sounds that are problematic. But we recently visited the dentist who says she is going to need braces. The longer I wait the worse her overbite will be. My pediatrician told me hers was not bad enough at birth to cause problems. I am upset that it just wasn't done as an infant, first of all because I couldn't nurse her. She couldn't latch on from the time she was born, no one bothered to tell me it was probably due o her tongue being tied. I do see that my daughters speech is getting progressively worse. I am told it wont be a big deal at all. You should probably get it done if it is interfering with her life already.

Hi H.,
What has your pediatrician said about the issue? I would talk with your daughters doctor, and if he or she recommends also, I would still get a second opinion from the medical field. At that point you will have heard what they all have to say , and it may help make your decision easier one way or the other.
Good Luck!

I was born tongue-tied - to the extent that if my parents hadn't had my frenulum clipped, I never would have been able to talk at all. This procedure is one that we researched extensively when I was pregnant with my daughter, as it is genetic in nature. It is relatively painless, and heals very quickly. I believe my mother told me that they used a local on me, and I was healed within a few days. I have been lucky enough to have never experienced any speech problems - though both of my brother's children have had speech problems due to the same issue. His daughter is 8, and his son is 6. He waited until E. was 7 to have hers clipped, and now wishes that he had done it sooner, as she most likely would not have had such issues. She continued with therapy for a few months after the procedure and improved at an incredible rate. She now speaks wonderfully, and you would never know that she ever even had a problem. He hasn't had the procedure done on his son as of yet, as their mother said that they waited until E. was 7, so they should wait until he is also, so they will have the procedure done soon after his 7th birthday.
I think you should speak to a doctor who is experienced with the procedure to get the details and ask any questions you might have. Then you can make an informed decision that is right for you and your daughter.
Good luck!

My daughter was a preemie so a tiny little thing. She had a very hard time breastfeeding and was also tongue tied. Took her to the ENT dr. like 2 days after being discharged from the hospital the ENT DR. left the decision up to me and I said "SNIP IT" I knew it was horrifying to have done but I figured better do it now than later and all that was running through my mind was speech problems, problems eating. I couldn't imagine my daughter being able to lick a icecream cone when she grew older. So she was under 2weeks old they clamped her tongue pulled it out and took a pair of scissors and snipped it. It bled, she whined for a few minutes took her bottle and that was the end of it. She never did breastfeed but atleast I helped her future as a toddler,preschooler,child,teenager and adult so she could talk normally and eat normally. She is now 15mos.and I'm so glad I did it. She is talking a lil and so far no speech problems nothing. She can lick a icecream cone too!

I would do it in a heartbeat all over again it was nothing! We didn't even use a numbing medicine nothing. If I can snip my newborn you can snip your child. I did it for sole beneficial reasons I knew if I didn't my daughter would have so many problems later on.

Seriously just do it. If you can't handle it have your husband take her in.

I have a older child who has tons of dental issues like crowns and cavaties and taking her to the dentist is 10x worse than having had my baby's tongue snipped. It was comparable to having a baby's ear's pierced. Hurts for a second and it's all done and over with, 5min. later it's a thing of the past.

I also have a friend with a 8yr.old son who needs his done I can hardly understand a word that comes out of his mouth.

Good morning, H.:

You are right to seek out more advice. I would go to your pediatrician, or even a specialist, and ask for a physical exam.

The doctor will know, so will a dentist. When it comes to any procedure at all: always seek out professional opinions. The physician will help you and refer you, so will your child's dentist.

The more you know and hear, the more solid your decision making can become. Then you can breathe freely, because you'll know you've consulted others, as you should.

Good luck!

My DS had this done in the hospital when he was 2 days old. He couldn't nurse well before it was clipped, which meant he wasn't peeing/pooping enough, he could get the billirubin out of his system, etc. It took a few seconds and within minutes he was fine and doing 100% better with feeding, etc. Mt DH's sister had speech issues as a child and it turns out they never had her frenulum clipped. I know the thought of it is bad, but it will be OK.

I could understand the hesitation if the procedure required more than just a local. I really don't understand why you would rather have her go thru another year of intense speech therapy and futher problems in school that could be fixed rapidly with a simple procedure. I know it is scary to put your child in a situation that may cause pain. Keep in mind that the mouth heals extremely quickly.

Hi H. -
I'd have it done if I were you. My brother (who is now 47) had to have his tongue clipped for the same reason when he was 4 yrs old. It is an easy procedure and well worth it for the child's speech. We thought my brother had mental/cognitive problems when he was little because he would point and almost grunt when he wanted something. Finally mom/dad took him to the doctors and come to find out, he was almost deaf and his tongue was tied. They agreed to have both procedures which were tubes in his ears and his tongue clipped. My brother was in the hospital over night and that was 40+ yrs ago so I'm sure it would be out-patient now a days.

He was in speech therapy until he was a teenager but he hears fine and his speech is perfect. All they do is clip that thing underneath the tongue so it can move properly. This is really needed not only for speech purposes but also for eating and swallowing correctly. I'm sure you and your child will be glad it is done.

Best wishes,

I was born tongue tied and mine was clipped while I was still in the hospital. My daughter was born tongue-tied and we took her in to get it clipped at 1 month. I work in a school and talked to numerous speech therapists and they all said clip the tongue. Not only speech problems that will never completely resolve, but preclude her from playing certain musical instruments if she's musically inclined and generally lower her self-esteem. She may choose a career that requires public speaking and this won't work if she has a speech problem. It was a very small procedure and I think I gave my daughter Tylenol once and that was it. No problems with the bottle after that. Please consider it:)

Hi, My boy, when he was about four or five, did have his frenulum cut. I had a biological dentist who told me that this was not necessarily affecting my boy's speech; but rather, it could potentially cause other challenges, including some issues with his arch in his mouth not being high enough and potential problems later when his adult teeth came in.

The tongue is supposed to be resting just slighly above the upper teeth (this is the natural position). When the tongue is longer than typical, it cannot find its resting place up there.

This brings up another question:
The arch of the mouth, when the tongue moves against it, or when a baby is sucking mother's milk or his or her thumb, for that matter, stimulates the flow of the cerebral-spinal fluid in the brain. The flowing of this fluid throughout the brain-body provides for a sense of well-being/peace in an individual. even more importantly, it is stimulating brain development!

Back to the frenulum. I thought, yes, I will do this frenulum cutting for my boy. And I am a Jewish mom who did not circumcise her son, because I thought this would be harmful to my boy. I also had a dentist who I trusted --

Because this dentist had helped me when my son was three and had cavities in two baby teeth, I trusted him.

Hi H.,

My son is only 5 months old but he was tongue tied at birth. It was causing some latching issues with breast feeding so we did go and see an ENT doctor. He told me that it would most likely make a difference on his latch and help with my soreness if we went ahead with the procedure (he was 1 week old) he also told me that the top connector (not sure what it is called) might cause problems down the road, but most likely it will be okay and not to worry about it now. SO, we went ahead with the clipping and it was fine. I chose not to be in the room, but it literally took less than 1 min for him to go in and snip it back. It did bleed and he did cry, but you need to remember that the mouth is the FASTEST healing place. I nursed him about 5 mins after it was done and he was just fine. I know that it will be more traumatic on a 5 year old, but it will most likely be something that will improve many area's of her life and if you think about it down the road she would probably much rather have speech come easy to her rather than have to continue to see speech therapists all the time. You won't be bad parents if you have this done, you will be looking out for her well being as a growing child.
It really isn't an extensive procedure at all, I wouldn't consider it surgery. Good luck though... let us know what you decide and how the turn out is if you get it done.

All 3 of my children had a tounge tie and I had all 3 of them clipped. The difference with mine is that I did it when they were infants, so I can not give you insight on the experience your child will have. My son was 7 months, my daughter was 2 weeks (and then done again when she got ear tubes at 15 months. Her tounge had not been clipped enough and WAS affecting her speech/babbling), my other daughter was clipped when a day old in the hospital as her's was moderate to severe. I am glad I had it done and the procedure is very simple.
If it will help your daughter's speech I would definately do it to see if this will benefit her. I tend to agree with your sister's on the extra year of speech therapy only to need the procedure done at that time, possibly.
I hope everything works out for you and your daughter.

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