5 Signs of Tongue Tie or Lip Tie in Babies


Helping your little one thrive.

Breastfeeding is one of nature’s small wonders. Its ability to build a bond between mother and child as well as to impact their short- and long-term health is downright amazing. Babies who are breastfed receive antibodies that help them build strong immune systems, have lower chances of developing allergies or asthma, and come down with fewer respiratory illnesses, ear infections, and bouts of diarrhea. They may even have lower risks of certain cancers, heart disease, or illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus later in life. Mothers who breastfeed their babies experience a lower risk of postpartum depression, less postpartum bleeding, and reduced risks of ovarian and breast cancers.

But despite how natural and healthy breastfeeding is, it doesn’t always come easily for everyone. One common cause of difficulty breastfeeding your little one is a tongue tie or lip tie, which is when the membrane that connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth or the upper lips to the gums is too short or thick. This impacts the mobility of your child’s tongue or lips, which in turn impacts their ability to breastfeed and may cause issues with speaking properly as they age. Thankfully, tongue and lip ties are easy to resolve, so knowing how to spot the signs in your baby can help resolve these issues and allow you to breastfeed easily. Here are 5 signs of tongue and lip tie you can watch out for in your little one.

1. Your baby has a hard time latching during feeding.

Since tongue and lip ties can prevent your baby from having the full range of motion in their tongue or lips, they often have trouble latching onto your breast during feedings. They have a hard time creating and maintaining the suction needed to breastfeed, so they may also have trouble staying latched to your breast. Hearing clicking sounds while they’re nursing could be a sign that your baby is losing suction. Some babies have an easier time latching onto a bottle, but others will continue to struggle whether they’re being fed from your breast or a bottle.

2. Your baby is fussy during feedings.

Babies with tongue or lip tie may become frustrated and fussy during feedings. After all, they’re hungry, but they’re struggling to get enough food. Their frustration is understandable, but it can contribute to making feedings difficult or needing to cut them short. This frequent fussiness and hunger can also lead to the development of colic, which can be frustrating and exhausting for both you and your baby.

3. Your breastfeeding sessions are painful.

Your baby’s struggle to latch and stay latched, as well as the fact that they may gum or chew on your nipple in an attempt to get more milk if they’re not able to suck well, can cause breastfeeding to be painful. This discomfort and pain can linger even after feedings are over, leaving you with sore and damaged nipples. When your baby isn’t feeding effectively, this discomfort can be added to by engorgement, blocked ducts, and mastitis, all of which can make breastfeeding even more difficult for you and your baby.

4. Your baby needs near-constant breastfeeding sessions to get enough milk.

Your baby still has the same appetite and calorie requirements as any other baby, but they have trouble getting enough milk when they aren’t latching well or producing enough suction to feed effectively. This means that they’ll likely need to be fed more often to get the same amount of milk as other babies. It can quickly feel like your baby needs near-constant feedings, especially at night. Pumping breast milk and using a bottle at night so that you and your partner can take turns getting up will help you feel more rested, especially if your baby latches to a bottle more readily. Finding a long-term solution for the root of the problem is definitely better, though—and there are solutions out there for you and your baby!

5. They have a hard time gaining weight

If they’re having a hard time getting enough milk and reaching their calorie requirements, your baby can also begin struggling to gain enough weight. Even though your breast milk provides perfect nutrition for your little one, the key lies in getting enough. If your baby is struggling to get enough milk through breastfeeding sessions, your pediatrician might recommend supplements to help them put on weight at a normal rate. This isn’t the only solution, though—if your baby can get enough breast milk, they don’t need supplements.

Consult your pediatric dentist or pediatrician.

If you suspect that a tongue or lip tie—or another issue—is impacting your child’s ability to breastfeed successfully, the best thing you can do is consult with a pediatrician or pediatric dentist. The good news is that it’s easy to spot tongue and lip ties and just as easy to treat them with modern laser dentistry! The solution is a simple, quick procedure at our Must Love Kids pediatric dentistry office, during which Dr. Mo or Dr. G will apply a topical anesthetic to numb the area. Then, they’ll use a laser to cut the frenulum, which is the tissue that is causing the problems by being too short or thick. The entire process takes less than five minutes and is completely painless for your baby.

Using a dental laser contributes to this painlessness and helps your baby heal faster, causing less bleeding and inflammation than other tools. This makes it an ideal tool for this quick, simple procedure. Even better, the results are immediate, giving your baby a full range of motion in their tongue or lips. Your baby should be able to begin latching onto your breast easily right after the procedure!

The struggles that a tongue or lip tie can cause you and your baby during breastfeeding sessions can be frustrating and exhausting for both of you—but you don’t have to choose between continuing to struggle or giving up breastfeeding! A quick, simple procedure can enable your baby to breastfeed normally, allowing them to reap all of the benefits that will help your little one live the healthiest life possible. If these symptoms sound familiar, feel free to call our Vancouver pediatric dentistry office at any time to schedule an evaluation for your baby.