PLANTATION, Fla. – It happens to all of us. Even television anchors get tongue tied, but for children like Dylan Ramkisson being tongue tied is a treatable medical condition known as ankyloglossia.
From the time he came home from the hospital, Dylan's mother knew something was wrong. Melissa Ramkisson said her son made grunting noises in his sleep, seemed to have a stiff neck, spit up a lot, wouldn’t breastfeed and hated being on his back.
Ramkisson took her son from doctor to doctor. Finally, this emergency room nurse figured out the problem. The condition happens when the tissue under the tongue, the frenum, doesn't develop properly.
Dentist Leslie Haller said in some cases the tissue is so tight, it literally ties the tongue to the floor of the mouth. Haller said babies with tongue tie don’t swallow properly and can’t breastfeed well. She said pediatricians don’t screen for it, so it often goes undiagnosed and treated.
Victoria Wiltshire of Plantation was desperately looking for help for her son, Alexander, when someone told her about Ramkisson, the founder of Help With Ties, an organization dedicated to educating new parents.
"I would hate for another mom to go through what I went through," Ramkisson said. "It's supposed to a bonding experience and it just wasn't."
The good news: Haller said the solution is a lingual frenictomy, a 10 minute laser procedure to release the tight tissue. It prevents a host of future problems.
"A child with tongue tie can have speech problems, sleep problems," Haller said. "They are tired and cranky and can have behavioral problems and end up being diagnosed with ADHD."
Alexander and Dyland were lucky. Their tongue ties were diagnosed and treated, but doctors say there are many adults with it who are suffering with sleep apnea and speech problems. Local 10 News photojournalist Curt Calhoon learned he has tongue tie while helping to produce this report.
Calhoon said he always hated how it sounded like he was slurring his words and had trouble pronouncing certain words. He underwent the frenectomy and hopes both his speech and maybe even his snoring will improve over time.