Lip Ties & Tongue Ties: What They Can Mean for Your New Baby

Madeline: Posted 02/08/2016

Have you checked your baby for a lip tie or tongue tie? Many new mothers don’t think to look at the physical formation of their baby’s mouth, but there are a few good reasons that you need to see if your baby has a lip tie or tongue tie. The way the baby’s mouth is formed has a direct impact on a number of aspects of health in their early life, which is why nursing mothers and new parents need to consider the implications.

Misdiagnosed Health Problems

When a baby starts having troubles such as failure to thrive, reflux, or colic, most doctors misdiagnose the problem and suggest a treatment to eliminate the symptoms. In some situations, the pediatrician might say that there is nothing wrong, causing the parent and the child to suffer for months without any relief.

If you are worried about your baby in any way, you should talk with a medical specialist about the possibility of a lip tie or tongue tie. This problem can have a domino effect, and also cause other situations such as low milk supply, eating every two hours during the night at the age of six months, or painful breastfeeding.

What is a Lip Tie or Tongue Tie?

When the baby is developing in the womb, it is normal for a small bit of tissue to form to attach the tongue to the lower jaw. This tissue is called the frenums or frenulum, and it occurs in every baby. But, some children have tissue that develops too tight, which means that they are unable to move their tongue in the right way. When the tissue is too tight, it is referred to as a “tongue tie.”

Another location for a tie to happen is where the lip attaches to the gums. A “lip tie” might limit the motion of the upper or lower lip. With both the lip and the tongue, it is only referred to as a “tie” if the tissue is so tight that it restricts movement. It is common for a baby to have both a tongue tie and a lip tie, although there are situations where one might be present without the other.

For many babies, the tissue is there but it doesn’t have an impact on the movement of the tongue or lip. So, it is important to talk with a medical professional to determine if the tie is impacting your baby.

Classifications of Ties

There are actually different classifications of lip ties and tongue ties. These are the different categories of tongue ties, based on where the tissue is attached to the tongue:

° Class One: The tissue is attached to the tip of the tongue, which is most noticeable to many people.

° Class Two: Not quite to the tip of the tongue, it is located a little further back.

° Class Three: A little closer to the base of the tongue

° Four: Also known as a posterior tie, is located beneath the covering of the mucous membrane. The diagnosis for this type of tongue tie must be done by feeling the area, instead of a visual diagnosis.

The classifications of lip ties are very similar to the tongue ties, with the different classes varying in location and severity.

How is Breastfeeding Affected?

Even though it might seem harmless to have tight tissue connected to the lip or tongue, the limited mobility can impact the child’s ability to eat. These restrictions make it hard to breastfeed, and some children even have difficulty using a pacifier or a bottle. Ultrasounds have been done to better understand lip ties and tongue ties, and it has been discovered that the movement of the child is not as effective at removing the milk from the breast.

When a baby has a tongue tie or a lip tie, it has a direct impact on the child’s ability to latch during breastfeeding. There can be a variety of symptoms that might occur, such as uneven breast drainage, low milk supply, slow weight gain, and nipple pain. In some situations, it could even damage the mother’s nipple.

If a lip tie or tongue tie is undiagnosed and the mother is having a hard time with breastfeeding, then it is possible that she might give up the efforts to breastfeed and wean the child early. So, there may be domino effects on the child’s health throughout childhood and even into the later years of life.

It is important that you have your child checked for a lip tie or tongue tie, especially if the baby is having problems eating or if the child is experiencing reflux or colic. Your doctor can help you decide the best treatment for the child to restore movement in the lip and tongue.


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