tongue Ties

What are Tongue Ties?

A tongue tie occurs when the thin membrane underneath one’s tongue restricts its movement.  This thin membrane is also known as the lingual frenulum or ankyloglossia. Approximately 3-15% of babies are negatively affected by a tight frenum and are unable to move their tongues freely.  This type of restriction affects their ability to breastfeed and latch correctly and can cause nipple pain and trauma, decreased milk intake and eventually a decline of supply.  In children a tongue tie can contribute to eating difficulties, speech difficulties and breathing difficulties and in adults it can cause speech difficulties, breathing difficulties, TMJ pain, neck and shoulder pain and headaches.

In older children symptoms of a tongue tie include:

Speech delay

Trouble sleeping

Behavioral issues

Multiple cavities

Digestive difficulty

Enlarged tonsils

Tiring easily while speaking or reading aloud

Insufficient development of the palate

What are Lip Ties?

A lip tie occurs when the tissue attached the upper lip to the upper gums is too tight.  This tight membrane is also known as the labial frenum.  Babies with a lip tie have a difficult time flanging their lips to generate the negative pressure needed for breastfeeding.  When this occurs, they take in excess air during breastfeeding and become gassy and fussy. A lip tie can also contribute to early childhood caries

What is a buccal tie?

A buccal tie occurs when the tissue attached from the gums to the inside of the cheeks is abnormally tight.  A buccal tie can restrict a baby’s ability to create a good latch during breastfeeding. Like a lip tie, a buccal tie can also create plaque accumulation and can create caries

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Signs and symptoms in infants
  • Sliding off breast when latching/feeding

  • Falling asleep while nursing

  • Upper lip curls inward when latched

  • Mouth open at rest

  • Gumming/chewing nipple

  • Clicking sounds while nursing

  • Milk leaking from mouth while feeding

  • Unable to hold pacifier in mouth

  • Colic symptoms/reflux/spitting up

  • Gagging/choking while eating

  • Slow/poor weight gain

  • Breathing sounds (snoring, snorting)

  • Lip blisters

Signs and symptoms in mothers
  • Nipple pain

  • Lipstick shaped, creased, bleeding nipples

  • Low milk supply

  • Mastitis

Diagnosis of lip & tongue ties

The diagnosis is multifactorial.  Many babies can exhibit what appears to be a lip and tongue tie clinically but what truly makes it tied is if movement is restricted and is based upon a functional limitation.


A frenectomy is the term used to release the frenulum.  East Bay Tongue Tie Center uses the most advanced dental laser technology to make sure your child is comfortable and safe during the procedure.

If left untreated a tie can cause the following issues:

  Increased risk of dental decay
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