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Tongue Problems (cont.)

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Problems with tongue movement

Tongue movement problems are often caused by nerve damage (for example, post-stroke or post-surgery nerve damage). Limited tongue mobility can greatly affect our eating, swallowing, and speech. Depending on the extent of nerve damage, sometimes physical therapy may help in regaining control of the tongue.

Ankyloglossia, also known as "tongue-tie," is a less common condition where a band of tissue that connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth is too short or tight and impedes tongue movement. Because the tongue is vital for sucking, infants with ankyloglossia may be unable to breastfeed properly. For toddlers and older children, sometimes the tongue is able to compensate for most oral functions, but speech may be affected. The treatment for ankyloglossia is a surgical procedure (frenulectomy) that relaxes the tight band of tissue that is restricting the tongue's movements.

What are tongue problems in infants and children?

The most common tongue problem found amongst infants and young children is oral thrush characterized by white patches on the tongue. It often occurs after a course of antibiotics is taken by the infant or breastfeeding mother. "Good bacteria" is killed off allowing for an overgrowth of yeast. Treatment involves antifungal medications for the infant and, if breastfed, the mother to avoid passing the infection back and forth.

Other common tongue problems found in children are:

  • fissured tongue,
  • geographic tongue,
  • traumatic injury, and
  • aphthous ulcers (canker sores).

Less common tongue problems in children include "strawberry tongue," as seen in Kawasaki's disease.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/31/2017


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