An untreated tongue tie can cause a variety of impairments, both for the child and for the weaning mother. The primary issue with a tongue tie, is the reduced mobility of the tongue. But do you really need a wide range of motion to properly pronounce the sounds required for speech? To find out, we first need to explore what speech is, and how speech develops.

What is speech

Speech is the human vocal communication using language, and consists of articulation, voice and fluency. An understanding of these terms is required in order to understand the connection between tongue ties and speech. These terms are defined by as:


How we make sounds using the mouth, lips, and tongue. For example, we need to be able to say the “r” sound to say “rabbit” instead of “wabbit.”


How we use our vocal folds and breath to make sounds. Our voice can be loud or soft or high- or low-pitched. We can hurt our voice by talking too much, yelling, or coughing a lot.


This is the rhythm of our speech. We sometimes repeat sounds or pause while talking. People who do this a lot may stutter.

How does speech develop

According to PregnancyBirth&Baby, speech development starts almost as soon as the baby is born. From as little as 1 month, speech develops through a natural progression. This is very individual from child to child, although a general guideline is:

  • From 1 to 3 months of age, babies cry and coo.
  • At 4 to 6 months of age, babies sigh, grunt, gurgle, squeal, laugh and make different crying sounds.
  • Between 6 and 9 months, babies babble in syllables and start imitating tones and speech sounds.
  • By 12 months, a baby’s first words usually appear, and by 18 months to 2 years children use around 50 words and will start putting two words together into a short sentences.
  • From 2-3 years, sentences extend to 4 and 5 words. Children can recognize and identify almost all common objects and pictures, as well as use pronouns (I, me, he, she) and some plurals. Strangers can understand most words.
  • From 3-5 years, conversations become longer, and more abstract and complex.
  • By the time a child turns 5, they usually have a 2,500 word vocabulary and talk in complete, grammatically correct sentences. They ask a lot of ‘why?’, ‘what?’ and ‘who?’ questions.

The connection between tongue ties and speech

Voice and fluency are not affected by a tongue tie. As a tongue tie “only” restricts movement of the tongue, it has nothing to do with neither vocal folds nor the rhythm of speech.

Restricted movement does however influence articulation, as it will be harder for the tongue to move in the required way for proper articulation of sounds. Fortunately, this can be fixed by a tongue tie revision, which will restore mobility in the tongue.

For more information on how to treat a tongue tie, click here.

So what to do

A successful revision, followed by proper aftercare and bodywork, will ensure that the improved mobility is sustained. This means, that tongue ties only effect speech if it is untreated, and upon treatment no longer impairs speech, or does it?

As show above, speech develops very fast in the first 5 years of a child’s life. By age 5, and often sooner, children will have automated the process of speech. Revising the tongue tie will result in improved mobility, but being able to fully utilize this for speech, requires practice. The sooner the tongue tie is released, the better. This enables less time to develop sticky habits and gives the child more time to practice correct articulation.

If a tongue tie release does not give the desired speech development, OMFT or Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy can be a tool to speed up the process.

For more information on OMFT and tongue ties, click here.

To stay up to date on new content, visit and like our Facebook page here.