What is a Tongue Tie?

What is a Tongue Tie?

The phrase “tongue tied” is commonly used as a slang reference to someone stumbling over their words. However, tongue and lip ties (medically known as Ankyloglossia) can lead to serious complications in infants, adolescents, and even into adulthood if left untreated.

Tongue ties are caused when the lingual frenulum (the membrane which connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth) is thick, short, or otherwise malformed, restricting the tongue from moving correctly.

– For infants, tongue tie or lip tie may mean unsuccessful breastfeeding or bottle feeding.

For infants born with tongue or lip tie, the restriction does not allow the lip to rest passively over the nipple for proper suctioning.
Symptoms you may notice can include:

  • Difficulty latching or staying on latch
  • Excessive gas or burps
  • Gagging and choking
  • Milk dribbles
  • Reflux/colic
  • Excessive spitting up
  • An arched back due to discomfort
  • Falling asleep at the breast
  • Long feeding times or continual feeding
  • Lip calluses or blisters
  • Swallowing air
  • Chomping on the nipple
  • Comes off latch
  • Can only feed during letdown
  • Tucking of the upper lip
  • Fussing/fighting at the breast
  • Acts tense while nursing
  • Sensitive gag reflex
  • “Lazy Eater”
  • Difficulty holding a pacifier
  • Failure to gain weight


– NURSING MOTHERS may find it difficult or painful to breastfeed.

Tongue and lip ties don’t only affect the infant. A baby’s tethered oral tissue can also cause physical and emotional issues for a breastfeeding mother, which could include:

  • Painful Latch
  • Shallow Latch
  • Distorted, sore, damaged, and/or bleeding nipples
  • Plugged ducts
  • Mastitis
  • Feelings of failure or disappointment
  • Loss of milk supply (especially after 3 months)
  • Nipple throbbing (vasospasm)

– As BABIES GROW they may experience difficulty eating solid foods.

Tongue and lip tie symptoms in babies may include:

  • Eating slowly (often the last one to finish a meal)
  • Very picky about food, especially textures
  • Choking when transitioning to solid foods
  • Gagging or spitting food out
  • Refusing to wean
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Easily distracted during mealtimes
  • Grazing on food throughout the day
  • Failure to gain weight

If left untreated, the problematic side effects of tongue and lip tie continue into adolescence and adulthood.
– CHILDREN may have difficulties with Speech.

The tongue has a remarkable ability to compensate, so a child may never show signs of difficulty at all. However, not all children are able to adapt and the signs and symptoms of a tongue and lip tie during childhood may include:

  • Trouble articulating sounds (- l, r, t, d, n, th, sh, and z)
  • V-shaped notch at the tip of the tongue
  • Inability to stick out the tongue past the upper gums
  • Inability to touch the roof of the mouth
  • Difficulty moving the tongue from side to side
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