Columbia, South Carolina

When your child is born, he or she should be evaluated for tongue tie and lip tie. If your child has either of these conditions, it’s important to have them treated early to improve your child’s ability to breastfeed—and your breastfeeding comfort. Even if your child is able to breastfeed successfully, tongue tie and lip tie can be associated with a bad bite, even TMJ. A procedure called a frenectomy can help.

If your doctor found your child has tongue tie or lip tie, or if you aren’t sure your child was evaluated, please call 803-781-9090 or email Smile Columbia Dentistry in Columbia, SC today.


Tongue Tie Patient and Parents

Dr. Adam Hahn with one of his happy patients and parents.

Understanding Tongue Tie and Lip Tie

During development, our tongue and lips are connected to other tissue in the mouth by membranes called frenula (singular frenulum). These are supposed to thin and disappear by birth, but in about 4-10% of children, this doesn’t occur for the tongue and/or lip. This leaves the tongue and/or lip connected.

If the tongue is connected, it is called ankyglossia or tongue tie. If the upper lip is connected, it is generally called just lip tie, although it is technically known as tied maxillary fraenum, although there is a parallel term, ankylabia, that is rarely used.

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Breastfeeding Effects of Tongue Tie and Lip Tie

Tongue tie and lip tie can lead to a number of symptoms for the breastfeeding baby, such as:

  • No or poor latch
  • Prolonged feeding
  • Baby seems unsatisfied despite long feeding and adequate milk supply
  • Baby falls asleep on the breast
  • Baby gums or bites the nipple rather than sucking
  • Poor weight gain
  • Inability to hold pacifier

In addition, the mother may experience:

  • Creased or discolored nipples after feeding
  • Flattened nipples after feeding
  • Cracked, bruised, blistered or bleeding nipples
  • Painful latch
  • Incomplete drainage
  • Infected nipples
  • Plugged ducts
  • Mastitis and nipple thrush

These symptoms can make mothers give up breastfeeding early or lead to a child that does not get the full benefit of breastfeeding. If you notice these symptoms, it’s important to have your child evaluated for tongue tie or lip tie.

Effects of Tongue Tie and Lip Tie beyond Breastfeeding

Even if a child with tongue tie or lip tie is able to successfully breastfeed, he or she may still benefit from tongue tie surgery.

Lip tie has been associated with an increased risk of cavities in breastfeeding infants. Both lip tie and tongue tie have been associated with a poor bite (malocclusion) that may contribute to TMJ.

Tongue Tie Surgery (Frenectomy)

Both tongue and lip tie can be treated in quick procedures that are so painless, they don’t even require anesthesia. Dr. Adam Hahn removes the extra frenulum tissue that connects the tongue or lip with a laser, what is called a frenectomy, which is also commonly known as tongue tie surgery.

Follow-up care focuses on making sure the disconnected tissue does not reconnect.

If your child has been diagnosed with ankyglossia and needs tongue tie surgery, or if you suspect tongue tie or lip tie, we can help. Please contact Smile Columbia Dentistry today to schedule a full evaluation of your child’s lip or tongue at our Columbia, SC office.