What Are Tongue and Lip Ties and How Do They Impact Babies?

| Pediatric Care

Differences Between Tongue and Lip Tie

While complications from tongue and lip ties are somewhat similar, the conditions themselves are slightly different. Tongue ties result from tissues connecting the underside of the tongue to the mouth directly below. The condition is also known as ankyloglossia and it is present at birth in babies that have a minimal range of motion with the tongue. Lip ties minimize movement but they do so between the lip and gums, where tissue connects the two.

The exact causes of each condition are unknown, but they may run in families. Some tissue connections aren’t as big of a deal as others. For example, several types of tongue and lip ties are based on how connected or “tied” the tissue is. Noticing a tongue or lip tie may be difficult at first, but watching for symptoms and visiting with a pediatrician at Schneck can help you understand complications that may arise.

Symptoms of Tongue and Lip Tie in Babies

Common signs of each condition can be subtle, so it’s important to monitor your baby, especially during feedings. You may not notice connective tissue unless you look closely.

Tongue Tie Symptoms

  • Trouble moving tongue to upper teeth
  • Unable to stick tongue out from teeth
  • Heart-shaped appearance of tongue

Lip Tie Symptoms

  • Clicking noises while feeding
  • Difficulty gaining weight
  • Yellowing of the skin, jaundice
Mom admires newborn baby in her arms

When to Seek Treatment for a Tongue or Lip Tie

There are a few main reasons babies with tongue or lip tie may require treatment. Speaking with your child’s pediatrician is the best way to determine whether to take action.

Disrupted Feeding

If your baby struggles to feed, you may need to adjust your positioning. Tongue and lip ties can create a shallow latch or prohibit latching altogether. Each condition can also hinder sucking, swallowing, and breathing. Seek support to ensure adequate nutrition.

Impacted Speech

Difficulty producing some sounds can result from tongue and lip ties, making it tough to communicate. Pronunciation is impacted by the inability to touch the tongue to the roof of the mouth. As children grow, their symptoms may shift to be more or less noticeable.

Schneck’s pediatricians can help you address concerns that would warrant treatment.

Tongue and Lip Tie Treatment

Making an appointment with one of Schneck’s pediatricians is the first step to receiving treatment. Our pediatric care providers will consult with you about concerns you’ve noticed and examine present connective tissue to determine if a procedure is necessary. New mothers may also find support when they connect with a lactation specialist at Schneck’s Family Life Center.

Tongue Tie Treatment

When treatment is deemed appropriate for babies with tongue ties, a frenotomy is performed. This is a general procedure that allows tongue movement. Babies can often begin feeding normally once they have had the procedure. However, in cases that are more complex, tongue exercises may be recommended by your provider for optimal recovery.

Lip Tie Treatment

Like tongue tie treatment, the connective tissue is removed to allow lip movement. This procedure is called a frenectomy and is most commonly performed on babies. Frenectomies are especially necessary when connective tissue pulls gums from teeth.

These help solve speech and feeding issues as well as improve the ease of oral hygiene.

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We care for children from birth through adolescence at Schneck Pediatrics. Supporting growth through key developmental years helps ensure your child’s success, as they learn important motor skills. Contact Schneck Pediatrics to schedule an appointment.

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Dr. Kristin Sanders

About the Author

Kristin Sanders MD

Dr. Kristin Sanders is a pediatrician at Schneck Pediatrics.