Tongue & Lip Tie Overview

DentalCareXtra receive a number of enquiries every week regarding tongue and lip ties. The subject can be quite confusing and little is known about it.  We operate our Lip and Tongue Tie servies in Mackay and Moranbah.

Information we are providing has come from the Australian Breast feeding Association and can provide you with a wealth of information and reference information to assist you with a range of options and provide some answers to a range of questions you may have.

For more information visit the Australian Breast Feeding Association website, contact your GP, Lactation Consultant or Chiropractor who may also be able to discuss your concerns and options.
Here are some commonly asked questions:

What is Tongue Tided?
Tongue ties occur in about 5% of the population and is three times more common in males than females and can also run in families.
A tongue tie occurs when the thin piece of skin under the tongue (the lingual frenulum) is too short and restricts the movement of the tongue. The restriction of the tongue means that it is often difficult for a baby to latch properly to the breast when feeding.
Not in all cases will a tongue tie result in issues with being able to attach to the breast and suck well. However for some infants problems such as poor milk transfer, nipple damage and low weight gains will create issues for both mother and child. Poor feeding may also result in recurrent blocked ducts or mastitis due to ineffective milk removal.

Tongue Tie

What is an upper lip tie?
An upper lip-tie occurs when a piece of skin under the baby’s upper lip (the labial frenulum) is short and results in it being pinned too tight to the upper gum. When the skin is too tight this will result in the flange or “pull out” being restricted for the upper lip.
This may result in it being difficult for the breast to attach correctly as it is very hard for the baby to maintain a good seal. For older children, the upper lip-tie can be associated with a gap between the front teeth. This is classed as more of a cosmetic issue for older children, but for babies it can make it more difficult for them to breast-feed.
Upper lip-ties are often associated with a tongue-tie.

Lip Tie

Why is a tongue-tie a problem for breastfeeding?

To get a good start in life, a baby needs to be able to cup the breast with the tongue and be able to suck the milk from the breast. When the tongue is restricted in movement to the floor of the mouth, this will make it difficult for the baby to feed optimally. This may result in the baby not being able to take a full mouthful of breast tissue with feeding. When this occurs, it is called ‘nipple feeding’ as the baby is not able to draw far enough back the nipple in the mouth.

There are many signs that a baby’s tongue-tie is causing problems with breastfeeding, but you don’t have to have all of them:
• nipple pain and damage
• the nipple looks flattened after breastfeeding
• you can see a compression/stripe mark on the nipple at the end of a breastfeed
• the baby keeps losing suction while feeding and sucks in air
• the baby makes a clicking sound when feeding
• the baby fails to gain weight
• the baby cannot poke his tongue out beyond his gum or lips
• his tongue cannot move sideways
• the tip of his tongue may be notched or heart-shaped when he cries
• he may readily gag
• the tip may look flat or square instead of pointed.

Why is an upper lip-tie a problem for breastfeeding?
When a baby has an upper lip tie, it is likely that it is not possible to flange lips out over the breast to get the best possible seal. Baby may slip off the breast easily, thus not achieving a good feed.

Diagnosis of tongue-tie or upper-lip tie
If you suspect your baby has a tongue-tie or upper lip-tie that is causing breastfeeding problems, you may wish to contact a Lactation Consultant or other experienced health professional. They will be able to assess your breastfeeding and check your baby’s mouth to see whether the tight frenulum needs to be released.

Treatment for tongue-tie or upper-lip tie*:

If it is deemed that a tongue-tie or upper-lip tie is interfering with breastfeeding, then release of the tight frenulum can improve the baby’s ability to breastfeed.
Snipping or Lasering a tight frenulum in young babies is a simple procedure that takes only few minutes. No anaesthetic is needed. The baby usually breastfeeds straight after the procedure. The mother will often notice a difference in how the baby breastfeeds, but it can take up to 2–3 weeks for a complete improvement to be made. Breastfeeding straight away also helps to stop any slight bleeding, distracts the baby from any discomfort and acts as an analgesic.

We offer services for Tongue and Lip Tie in Mackay and Moranbah.   Please do not hesitate to contact us today. Alternatively, complete the form below, and one of our friendly team members will contact you.

For more information, visit the following website:
NHS National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence – Division of ankyloglossia (tongue-tie) for breastfeeding
American Academy of Pediatrics – Congenital Tongue-tie and its impact on breastfeeding
Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine protocols – Ankyloglossia (currently under revision)
Unicef UK– Tongue tie and breastfeeding
Tongue-tie – from confusion to clarity

* Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.