Tongue Tie and Picky Eating

As much as I joke about how difficult it is to get my kids to eat, I’m not joking today. My oldest son has had a hard time for years eating a wide variety of foods and we finally found the reason WHY.

 

When he was a toddler the pickiness and slow eating started, I chalked it up to typical toddler pickiness with respect to certain foods. I assumed he would eventually grow out of the pickiness and that things would improve. But they didn’t.

 

And within the past year, it almost seemed like things were getting worse. Food after food was being crossed off of his list of acceptable meals and snacks. Packing lunch was so stressful and meal times were dreadful for him and me. When he did eat, the quantities he ate were so small and took so long to eat but never ended up finishing it. I was constantly worrying about him getting enough nutrition to grow.

 

My life has always centred around trying to get him to eat. All of the typical “do this and he will eventually eat” things never worked. And believe me, I tried them all from surfing hours on the internet to reading books to understand what is wrong, trying positive reinforcements, sticking to the routine, being patient, making it fun, involving my child’s help, don't offer dessert as a reward, setting a good example, name it and I tried it all.

 

A few weeks ago things came to a head with a meltdown of epic proportions on both his and my part when he would not (could not) eat his favourite food. The one thing I can be guaranteed he will eat. If we are now crossing his favourite and most easily eaten food off the list, then I knew we were in trouble.

Something HAD to change. I really started thinking that maybe there was more to this issue than what meets the eye.

 

A friend of mine suggested that the combination of behaviours and symptoms sounded like a tongue tie. I was disturbed at the thought.

 

My oldest child didn’t really have a “problem” gaining weight, he was just always on the smaller side. Although I never thought he had breastfeeding issues, they were likely masked due to the fact that I was working full time and pumping, so he received more than half of his feedings through bottles (which are much easier for a tongue tied baby to eat from). He never had any speech issues though, which is one of the more obvious signs. Could he have had this problem all along?

But the more we talked, the more things started to come together. He clenches his teeth every night. He takes forever to chew, sometimes gagging on food and brushing teeth, cavities, migraines, food aversions, messy eating, agitation, texture issues, distrubed sleep, noisy breathing and more.

 

It took me a while to digest this and after some experience I’ve learned that it is extremely important to find the right person, because most doctors or dentists aren’t truly knowledgeable about tongue ties.

We got him evaluated. He does have a tongue tie. Although it might not be obvious to the untrained eye, his tongue was not able to move the way it should. This includes the process of swallowing. His tongue was too tightly tethered to the floor of the mouth making it unable to adequately move upwards and backwards in the normal swallowing motion.

 

I simultaneously felt relieved and guilty; relieved to have an answer, but guilty because I didn’t figure this out sooner.

 

What role does the tongue play?

The tongue plays many important roles during eating. It is responsible for moving the food from left to right so it can be properly chewed. When that doesn't happen, the food pockets in between the teeth leading to cavities.

When moving the food within the mouth the tongue must be able to create a bolus of food to move it to the back of the mouth where a swallow can be initiated. For this action the front as well as the back of the tongue should be able to reach the palate.Having a tongue tie can limit the movement of the tongue within the mouth making the kids feel uncomfortable. Many children unconsciously learn at a young age that certain foods are difficult to eat, so simply avoid them.

 

What are the recognisable red flags for your child to be picky eater?

 

The child will only eat foods with a specific texture.

Kids are smart and they learn quickly that some foods will practically dissolve if they are left in the mouth, which then requires no tongue movements.

 

The child is a messy eater.

When you have poor tongue control it is difficult to keep the food together. Then it becomes more difficult to manage, which can result in food falling out of the mouth.

 

Food is stored in the cheeks and more food is eaten.

If you are not able to use your tongue to retrieve food that has fallen to the sides of your mouth, it will build up there.

 

Spitting food and gagging

Poor control of tongue makes swallowing difficult resulting in gagging and spitting of food.

 

"When your tongue is held back here, it can also hold back a child's willingness to try new foods."

 

Trust your instincts, if you feel like something more is going on try to get to the bottom of it. Save yourself and your child from years of tears and struggle by finding an answer early on. Don’t give up find a tongue tie trained pediatric dental professional who can guide you.

YOU are the best advocate for your child!

 

Please feel free to ask me any questions. Contact Us

 

Keywords : tongue tie, picky eater, fussy eater, slow eater, healthy meals for picky eaters, diets for picky eating

 

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