3 Orthodontic Problems That Can Result From an Untreated Tongue or Lip Tie

A tongue tie can cause problems later on

If your baby has a tongue tie (also referred to as ankyloglossia), you likely notice that feeding time isn’t as smooth or enjoyable as you had hoped. This is because when your baby has a tongue tie, it can make it difficult for them to latch on to the breast

Some parents seek alternative feeding methods when this happens, instead of correcting the tongue tie. But unfortunately, an untreated tongue or lip tie can lead to other problems well into the future, such as sleep apnea and orthodontic issues.

What is a tongue tie?

A tongue tie is a condition that presents itself at birth. It occurs when a band of tissue connects the bottom of your baby’s tongue to the bottom of their mouth. When this happens, your baby is unable to move their tongue freely. If it is determined that your baby is tongue-tied or lip-tied, you may be referred to a skilled pediatrician for a laser frenectomy.

Occurring in 4 to 11% of newborns, tongue and lip ties can affect their ability to feed and get the important nutrients that they need to grow and thrive. Similarly, tongue and lip ties can cause breastfeeding problems and an inability for babies to get enough milk. 

Lip ties, similar to tongue ties, occur when the labial frenulum (the tissue that attaches the upper lip to the gums) is too tight, making it difficult for the baby to move their upper lip. Aside from problems with eating, tongue ties and lip ties can cause other problems when left untreated.

Left untreated, tongue ties and lip ties can lead to orthodontic problems. 

Lip ties can cause a gap between teeth. For example, children born with a short lingual frenulum often push out their lower jaw, allowing them to reposition their tongues so that they can feed or speak more easily. As a result, this can lead to an underbite, especially in kids whose mouths are quickly developing.

A frenectomy, thankfully, is an easy procedure that takes just a few minutes. At Must Love Kids Pediatric Dentistry in Vancouver, Washington, we use a specially designed diode laser for tongue tie and lip tie surgeries

Laser surgery is easily tolerated by babies and small children alike and can make a world of difference in their ability to latch on when trying to feed as an infant. Further, when a frenectomy is done early on, it can help avoid those orthodontic issues later. It can also help your child to avoid a speech impediment.

More specifically, an untreated tongue or lip tie can cause the following orthodontic issues.

  1. Development of a gap between teeth that is difficult to treat with orthodontics alone
  2. Tooth decay that can develop along the gumline of the front teeth, which can lead to other dental issues over time, including tooth loss
  3. Jaw joint problems
  4. Stomach aches and acid reflux resulting from improper or insufficient chewing

Tongue ties and lip ties may be discovered at your child’s early orthodontic evaluation.

Dentists recommend that children have an early orthodontic evaluation around age seven. During the appointment, the dentist or orthodontist will look for buck teeth, a deep bite, an underbite, overlapped or misaligned teeth (malocclusion), crowding, a crossbite, missing teeth, and extra teeth. 

These orthodontic evaluations are vital to your child’s health and can provide an early reading into orthodontic challenges your child may experience in the future if left untreated.

Your child’s dentist will also ask you or check your child to see if they are experiencing any of the following issues:

  1. Difficulty chewing
  2. Problems speaking
  3. Abnormal bite development
  4. Jaw clicking or popping
  5. Eruption of permanent teeth into a crowded mouth or a mouth with overlapping teeth
  6. Thumb-sucking
  7. Tooth grinding (bruxism)
  8. Repeated biting of the cheeks or roof of the mouth

Though most children don’t require orthodontic intervention – such as braces – at age seven, if they are experiencing any of the above concerns, early intervention treatments may be necessary. And if it is determined that your child has a tongue or lip tie, a frenectomy will often be recommended.

Let Must Love Kids Pediatric Dentistry help your child with a frenectomy to treat their tongue or lip tie.

We understand that you want what is best for your child. If they have a tongue tie or lip tie, let us help correct the issue with a frenectomy. Must Love Kids offers pediatric dentistry in Vancouver, Washington, and we can help get your child on the path to oral health quickly. 

We have decades of experience working with children and are proud to offer a caring and comfortable environment, not to mention a full range of pediatric dental services. Request an appointment today.