As you can read in our article on tongue tie symptoms, a tongue tie can cause a range of issues. One of the issues that many mothers experience, is difficulty breastfeeding. The reason for this, is that many of the effects of a tongue tie has an impact on breastfeeding. One of the most common of these, is the inability to create the required suction for a good latch. There can be several reasons for this, one of those, is a high-arched palate.
What is a high-arched palate?
A high-arched palate refers to a tall and narrow roof in the front of the mouth (the hard part of the palate). The palate is primarily shaped while the baby is still in the wound, and during the first year. A high-arched palate can therefore be a congenital condition present at birth.
There are a number of syndromes that can cause a high-arched palate like Crouzon and Down syndroms. Apart from this, a high-arched palate can also be caused by excessive thumb licking, use of pacifier and a tongue tie.
How does tongue ties cause a high-arched palate?
One of the major functions of the tongue the first year, is to shape the palate and though this, the skull. For the tongue to shape the palate, it needs to be at the roof of the mouth as much as possible. For this to happen, the tongue must have enough mobility to rest at the roof of the mouth without effort, so that it will “automatically” return to this position whenever the tongue relaxes and when during sleep. This is impeded if the tongue is restricted due to a tie.
What are the symptoms?
The first, and often most feared symptom of a high-arched palate, is difficulty feeding, as both breastfeeding and bottle-feeding requires a good latch. This is not the only symptom though, others include sleep apnea, reduced airflow through the nose, speech issues, crocked teeth and changes in facial bones.
For more information on symptoms for a high-arched palate, click here.
How is a high-arched palate diagnosed?
A high-arched palate is often diagnosed visually. Quite often a trained professional can see the condition outright and perform a diagnosis on the spot. A more elaborate and more precise technique has been developed, although in most cases a visual inspection is sufficient.
What is the treatment for a high-arched palate?
If the high-arched palate is caused by a tongue tie, the first step in treating it, is to get a tongue tie revision. This will provide the required mobility for the tongue to properly perform its function of shaping the palate, and thus the entire skull.
If done early enough, preferably not later than the first month after birth, there is a good change that the baby has not yet developed a habit of overcompensating for the restriction using the tongue incorrectly. If done later, or if the baby is not able to correct the way it uses the tongue, you can do a few things to help.
The first thing you should try, is to perform “baby-OMFT”. You should do whatever possible to inspire your baby to exercise the tongue. It can be by putting a sweet substance on the lips or in the palate of the baby for it to lick off, or by playing with your own tongue and try to get baby to mimic this. If this does not work, and the high-arched palate is causing issues, you may resort to a palate expander, this however is a lot more intrusive and should be discussed with your local dentist.
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