Lip and tongue ties are a common topic of conversation for new parents. A tongue-tie is a condition where an unusually short, thick, or tight band of tissue tethers the bottom of the tongue to the floor of the mouth. A lip tie is when the length and thickness of the band of tissue extends between the upper lip and gums above the upper front teeth.
Both lip and tongue ties are congenital conditions, which means children are born with them. They can restrict the movement of the lips or tongue and impact oral functions, such as speaking, feeding, and swallowing.
Lip and Tongue Tie Evaluations
We recommend having your child assessed for a lip or tongue tie during the early stages of infancy to determine if their oral tissues are developing correctly. During this assessment, we will ensure that the length and thickness of the lip and tongue tissues are appropriate and check for any signs or symptoms that your child may be experiencing.
During these evaluations, our goal is to diagnose a tie as early as possible to prevent any developmental restrictions. One of Abra Dental’s (formerly ChildSmiles•FamilySmiles) specially trained providers will examine the length of the tie and its point of attachment to surrounding tissues. We will also ask and look for any symptoms that the child may be experiencing.
As far as physical symptoms, it is not unusual for there to be a large space between the upper front teeth or for the tongue to have a heart shape at the tip with a cupped appearance.
How to Recognize Tongue and Lip Ties During Breastfeeding
Some mothers may come to suspect a lip or tongue tie during their infant’s breastfeeding sessions. Infants with a lip or tongue tie may have symptoms such as reflux, colic, gassiness, and even the inability to properly nurse. This is because tongue-tied babies are unable to draw the nipple as deeply into the mouth to receive adequate milk.
Some babies with tongue or lip ties may only be able to nurse just enough to grow in their first few weeks but are not able to maintain enough nourishment to continue growing. These same children may have difficulty managing solid foods when they are older.
Symptoms of a Tongue or Lip-Tied Breast-Fed Baby
Difficulty latching to the breast
Gumming or chewing while nursing
Inability to hold a pacifier or bottle in their mouth
Gassiness (babies with ties often swallow a lot of air)
Limited weight gain
Inability to fully drain the breast during feedings
Choking on milk
Lengthy nursing episodes
Clicking noises while sucking
Lip and Tongue Tie Treatment
If your child is experiencing a severe enough tie that negatively impacts their oral function or development, our maxillofacial surgery department can perform a simple procedure called a frenectomy to minimize the tie and restore proper function. From there, our team will continue to monitor your child’s oral development to ensure they are brought up with proper oral hygiene instruction.
We do not recommend a “wait and see” approach when it comes to lip and tongue ties due to the range of potential developmental difficulties. The treatment for these conditions is quick, simple, and virtually devoid of complications. Therefore, if you suspect one of these conditional conditions, please do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with one of our providers.