Reviewed by Dr. Benjamin Foley, DDS

Lip and tongue ties are common conditions that many people may not be aware of, but can have a significant impact on oral health. While most common in infants, they can also affect children and adults.

In this blog series, we will explore lip and tongue ties – from understanding the condition to treatment options.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaway

Lip and tongue ties are conditions related to the frenums in the mouth that can have a significant impact on oral health. Early detection and treatment are crucial for preventing complications and improving overall well-being.

What are Lip and Tongue Ties?

Lip and tongue ties are conditions that are related to the frenums in the mouth. Frenums are small bands of tissue that connect different parts of the mouth to the gums and jawbone

There are several frenums in the mouth. The two associated with lip and tongue ties are the lingual frenulum and the labial frenulum.

A tongue tie affects the lingual frenulum, which connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth. A lip tie affects the labial frenulum, which attaches the upper or lower lip to the gums.

In a person with a lip or tongue tie, these frenums are either too thick, tight, or attached in an abnormal location. This can restrict movement and cause problems with breastfeeding, oral health, and even speech.

Causes and Risk Factors

The exact cause of lip and tongue ties is unknown, but there are a few factors that may contribute to their development. 

Genetic predisposition is one aspect that has been observed in families with a history of these conditions. Certain conditions such as cleft palate or other craniofacial abnormalities may increase the likelihood of developing lip and tongue ties.

Symptoms of Lip and Tongue Ties

Lip and tongue ties can manifest in different ways, and the symptoms may vary depending on the age of the individual. 

Symptoms of Tongue Tie

  • Difficulty lifting the tongue to the roof of the mouth or moving the tongue from side to side
  • Trouble sticking out the tongue past the lower front teeth
  • A noticeable notch at the tip of the tongue
  • A baby with a tongue tie may have difficulty with breastfeeding or bottle feeding
  • Prolonged feeding times and poor weight gain 
  • Challenges with certain speech sounds as the child grows older
  • Potential issues with oral hygiene due to limited movement of the tongue

Symptoms of Lip Tie

  • Difficulty flaring the upper lip or lifting it towards the nose
  • A visible tight band of tissue connecting the upper lip to the gum, often causing the gum to pull away when lifting the lip
  • Complications with breastfeeding, such as difficulty latching, for both the infant and mother (including pain and discomfort for the mother)
  • Gaps between the upper front teeth or dental issues later in life due to the tight frenulum’s pull on the gum line
  • Discomfort brushing the gingival margin of the upper front teeth due to the pull of the frenum on the tooth brush

Early Detection and Diagnosis

Early detection and diagnosis of lip and tongue ties are crucial for successful treatment and prevention of potential complications. In infants, early intervention can help with breastfeeding difficulties and prevent long-term oral health issues. This diagnosis is frequently made by the pediatrician or pediatric dentist.

For older children and adults, addressing the condition early on can improve speech and prevent the other potential issue mentioned above.

Treatment Options for Tongue and Lip Ties

The most common and recommended treatment is a frenectomy, which involves the surgical release of the frenum. This can be done using a co2 laser or scalpel.

We will talk more about the details of this procedure in an upcoming blog. In the meantime, check out Frenectomy Procedure to learn more. 

Foley & Le- Your Oral Surgeons in Boulder, CO

If your dentist or doctors has informed you that you or your child have a tongue or lip tie, we encourage you to book a consultation at our office. The treatment for tongue and lip ties is minimally-invasive and will make a significant difference in your oral health and overall well-being.

Don’t wait – take the first step towards a healthier mouth today! Call (303) 444-2255 to book an appointment or complete the online booking form. If you are searching for an ‘oral surgeon near me,’ or ‘frenectomy near me,’ trust Foley & Le Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons

Stay tuned for our next blog, where we will explore the impact of lip and tongue ties on breastfeeding and oral health.  


Can you fix a tongue tie as an adult?

Yes, a tongue tie can be fixed at any age, although early intervention is recommended for better results.

Is it worth removing a tongue tie as an adult?

Yes, removing a tongue tie can have numerous benefits for oral health and overall well-being. It can improve speech, prevent dental problems, and alleviate discomfort or difficulties with eating and drinking.

Do lip ties need to be corrected?

Lip ties don’t always need to be corrected, as they may not cause any problems. However, if a lip tie is causing issues with breastfeeding or oral health, treatment may be recommended. It’s best to consult with a specialist to determine the best course of action.

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