Tongue and Lip Ties

What are tongue and lip ties?
Tongue and lip ties are restrictive bands of tissues, present at birth. A tongue tie is where the bottom of the tongue is tethered to the floor of the mouth by an unusually short, thickened or tight frenum. An upper lip tie is a tether that attaches the upper lip to the upper gums.

How do these ties affect my child?
Symptoms may vary widely. The first sign may be difficulty breastfeeding. Some infants may suckle inefficiently while other babies may not even be able to latch on. As a result, infants may be unsatisfied after a feed or take a long time to complete each feed. Infants may also try to overcome the tongue restriction gumming or chewing on the nipple, causing pain and bleeding. The upper lip tie may contribute to reflux due to an intake of air stemming from a poor oral seal during feeds. This struggle with nursing can often lead to a premature end to the breastfeeding relationship.

If left untreated, some ties may affect a child’s speech, feeding and swallowing. Teeth alignment and the growth and development of the face and airways can also be hindered. Your child may also be at an increased risk of developing dental cavities (tooth decay).

What should I do if I suspect my child has a tongue or lip tie?
Paediatric specialists – paediatricians, paediatric dentists or paediatric surgeons – are likely to be the most up to date in the evolving field of breastfeeding medicine. If you’re facing any breastfeeding difficulties and suspect a tie, do make an appointment with either of the above specialists for an assessment.


  • Poor latching and sucking
  • Clicking sound while nursing
  • Falling off the breast or fussiness, and frequent arching away from breast
  • Falling asleep before satisfied while nursing
  • Unsatisfactory nursing episodes
  • Chewing of the nipple
  • Colicky / reflux
  • Poor weight gain
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