Signs and Symptoms of Tongue-Tie


Tongue-tie isn’t merely awkwardness of speaking in a nervous situation. It’s actually a medical condition called “ankyloglossia” in which the tongue is hindered from moving freely. What prevents normal movement of the tongue is the tissue connecting the tongue to the base of the mouth. If the tissue, called the “frenulum,” is very thick, tight, or attaches to the tongue far forward in the mouth, it causes tongue-tie. According to one study published in The Journal of the American Board of Family Practice, tongue-tie occurs in about 4.2% of babies born. Do you think your baby may have tongue-tie? The following are signs and symptoms of this condition that can negatively affect a person throughout childhood and adulthood, if not addressed.

How Tongue-Tie Affects Breastfeeding

It’s not always immediately obvious that a newborn baby has ankyloglossia. Problems with breastfeeding often lead to the discovery. Lip-tie is a similar condition to tongue-tie except that it’s the top lip that can’t move freely. If someone has lip-tie they usually also have tongue-tie but not the other way around.

How tongue-tie or lip-tie affects breastfeeding:

  • At first, a newborn may get an adequate supply of milk. When the baby is continually unable to latch on properly during breastfeeding, a result can be inadequate stimulation of the mother’s breasts. Her milk production can decrease, resulting in poor weight gain.
  • Digestive problems such as reflux and colic can occur because digestion begins in the mouth.
  • Babies with lip-tie cannot open up to properly project their lips, which can prevent them from effectively grasping the breast.
  • A baby may refuse the breast due to frustration over getting an insufficient supply of breast milk.
  • A baby may begin gumming or chewing the mother’s nipple while attempting to nurse. As a result, the mother’s nipples can become cracked and sore and could develop blisters.
  • Breast engorgement occurs when a baby is getting an inadequate supply of milk. Swollen, hard breasts can become painfully tender, especially during breastfeeding.

More Signs and Symptoms of Tongue-Tie

A person with tongue-tie may not be able to stick out their tongue past their lips; this is not a sign of a “short tongue.” If a person’s outstretched tongue looks heart-shaped, it’s because the frenulum is attached too close to the front of the tongue. A baby may not be able to bottle-feed or use a pacifier. Other symptoms of tongue-tie in babies and children follow:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Drooling
  • Problems moving the tongue from side to side
  • Vomiting
  • Pain

Dental problems are common among children with tongue-tie because they are unable to run their tongue along their teeth after eating. Because debris is more prone to stay on the teeth, decay occurs. Difficulties speaking are among the numerous other symptoms of tongue-tie in children.

Last Treatment for Tongue-Tie

The earlier tongue-tie is treated, the easier it is on the patient. The Gep TOTs Dental Group at Woodbridge Kids Dentistry specializes in diagnosing and treating infants and children with tongue ties and lip ties, also referred to as “tethered oral tissues” (TOT). We quickly correct the condition with minimal discomfort using a dental laser. For the best treatment for tongue-tie and lip-tie, contact our team of kid-friendly experts today at (647) 492-7059.


When breastfeeding doesn’t go smoothly, there are many possible causes; and tongue-tie is one of them. “Ankyloglossia” is the medical name for tongue-tie, and it’s a condition present at birth. The frenulum, which is the tissue connecting the bottom of the mouth to the tongue, is the cause. If the frenulum is short, thick, tight, or attached near the tip of the tongue, the tongue’s movement is hindered. A baby must make certain use of the tongue to latch onto the breast during feeding, but ankyloglossia disrupts that ability.

Learn below some symptoms of tongue-tie, negative effects of the condition on the mother, and benefits of a frenectomy, in which the frenulum is removed during a laser treatment.

Signs that a Baby has Tongue-Tie

Not all physicians treat tongue-tie as a serious issue that can affect the quality of life, though there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. Due to this dismissal of ankyloglossia, some doctors won’t attribute breastfeeding problems to tongue-tie. It is sometimes up to a mother to identify symptoms for herself.

How Tongue-Tie Impacts Babies

The effects tongue-tie has on babies differs from one child to another, though some are somewhat universal signs that a frenectomy may be of benefit.

The following are or may be signs that a baby has tongue-tie:

  • Constant hunger
  • Feeding for long periods of time with only short breaks before feeding again
  • Irritability, frustration, and frequent crying
  • Refuses to breastfeed
  • Weight gain is poor, and the child fails to thrive
  • Makes a clicking sound when feeding
  • Biting or grinding the teeth or gum
  • Feeding is painful
  • Gassy and or colicky
  • Vomits directly after feeds.

How Tongue-Tie Affects Moms

Babies aren’t the only ones who struggle due to tongue-tie. The following are some effects the condition has on breastfeeding moms:

  • The nipples become sore because the baby is gumming or chewing the nipple while attempting to nurse. Mothers also experience sore, damaged, and cracked nipples when a baby feeds for lengthy periods with little rest between feedings.
  • Due to the inability of a baby with tongue-tie to get adequate nourishment, the breasts aren’t properly drained of breast milk. Painful results might possibly include plugged milk ducts, breast engorgement, and/or mastitis.
  • A mother’s breast milk supply may become too low because of the baby’s struggle to feed.
  • Between her baby not getting needed nourishment and the pain and discomfort of engorged breasts, it is not unusual for a mother to become emotionally stressed, possibly feeling guilty about unsuccessful breastfeeding.
  • Problems breastfeeding because a child has tongue-tie often leads to early weaning.

Soft Tissue Laser Treatment

Removing a baby’s frenulum can provide significant immediate and future benefits. It’s the least painful and invasive for newborns and small infants to have a frenectomy, as opposed to anytime later in life. As a child grows, the less speedy the recovery from a frenectomy might be. Without the procedure, a baby with breastfeeding problems can grow to be a child who struggles with swallowing, eating, and speech.

Gep TOTs Dental Group at Woodbridge Kids Dentistry in Vaughan, Ontario, specializes in dental laser treatments during which tongue-tie is painlessly and quickly corrected. For problems with tongue-tie, contact the kid-friendly specialists at Gep TOTs Dental Group by calling (647) 492-7059 today.


Effects of Unresolved Tongue-Tie on Adults

Tongue-tie is a condition in which the tongue has restricted movement. In newborns, tongue-tie can interfere with breastfeeding and lead to failure to thrive. If tongue-tie is resolved with a frenectomy aka frenotomy when a baby is still a newborn, many potential problems are averted.

Unfortunately, and perhaps strangely, much confusion surrounds a puzzling question of whether tongue-tie is a condition which needs to be addressed. Many physicians have adopted the philosophy of essentially denying the plethora of problems a restricted tongue can cause. As a result, many people grow up to adulthood forced to deal with limitations caused by a restricted tongue.

A Definition of Tongue-Tie

Tongue-tie is defined by one source as a malformation that causes a speech impediment. The medical name for tongue-tie is ankyloglossia, and another source says that it’s a condition existing from birth in which the range of the tongue’s motion is restricted. Typically, a tight or thick band of tissue called the “lingual frenulum” tethers the tip of the tongue to the floor of the mouth.

Developmental Issues Caused by Tongue-Tie

Numerous problems are resolved for a newborn with tongue-tie by having a quick, simple procedure that only becomes more complicated with age. After the baby stage has passed, the following are more of the problems faced by growing children and adults with tongue-tie:

  • Delayed speech development
  • Certain letters and sounds are difficult to say
  • Poor sleep
  • Sleep apnea
  • Mouth breathing
  • Teeth grinding
  • Lisp
  • Tooth decay is a greater risk, even with frequent brushing, because of inability to use the tongue to swipe food off of teeth
  • Jaw, neck, and back pain
  • Migraines
  • Posture that slumps forward
  • Certain food texture aversions

Adult Tongue-Tie Surgery

If any of the above-named symptoms apply to you and you believe you may have adult tongue-tie, the following are more indications that a frenectomy would be a benefit. These may be used by a professional during an assessment of tongue restriction.

  • You have a strong gag reflex.
  • There is a visible skin flap under the tongue.
  • When you stick out your tongue straight, you are unable to lift the tip without movement in the rest of the tongue.
  • If you open your mouth as wide as possible, you cannot reach the spot behind your upper front teeth while the jaw fully remains open.
  • Your tongue cannot comfortably wipe across the outer sides of your lower and upper back teeth.
  • Your tongue cannot comfortably reach where your gums and cheeks connect.

In addition, if you cannot move your closed lips from side to side without the entire jaw moving, you may have a lip tie, which means movement is restricted by an attachment of skin.

Newborn Frenotomy vs Adult Frenotomy

Research shows that a frenotomy does not seem to cause discomfort or distress in newborns. Babies 6 months old and older are typically administered a general anesthetic, and discomfort may be felt for up to 10 days. In older children and adults, a general anesthetic and stitches are sometimes required.

Tongue Tie Laser Treatments in the GTA Region of Ontario

Gep TOTs Dental Group at Woodbridge Kids Dentistry offers a team of specialists skilled at providing treatment for tongue tie and lip tie in the region of Ontario’s Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Contact us today at (647) 492-7059 for relief from the symptoms of tongue-tie and lip-tie.