What are Lip Tie and Tongue Tie?

What are Lip Tie and Tongue Tie? | Baby Chick

What are Lip Tie and Tongue Tie?

Don’t ever let anyone tell you breastfeeding is easy. It’s not. It may be natural and it may be a good thing, but it is not something that either you or your baby inherently knows how to do perfectly from the start. It is a learned art form and both you and your new baby have to practice to get it right. Unfortunately, there are some things that are completely out of your control that may impede a successful breastfeeding relationship. One of the more common obstacles is tongue and/or lip ties.

What is tongue & lip tie?

A tongue tie is a lingual frenulum (the membrane under the tongue) that is either too tight or too thick that causes the baby to not have the proper range of motion in the tongue to attach to the breast, suck and swallow effectively. This condition can cause a wide range of issues when breastfeeding such as a baby who can’t maintain a latch long enough to take in a full feeding, to a baby who stays on the breast for a long period of time without taking in a lot of milk.

Similarly, a lip tie is an abnormally tight membrane connecting the upper lip to the upper gums. Babies with a lip tie can have trouble creating a good seal with their lips at the breast, which can cause the baby to swallow a lot of air during breastfeeding which often makes these babies gassy and fussy.


Babies can have one or both of these conditions, but more often than not, both are present.

How is it diagnosed?

Some of the common first indicators to watch out for include sore, cracked or bleeding nipples, recurrent plugged ducts or mastitis, a baby who isn’t gaining well, has difficulty latching, makes clicking sounds when nursing, or chokes frequently. The best person to correctly diagnose a tongue and/or lip tie is a lactation consultant. There is a very specific protocol for checking for a tongue or lip tie, and you can find a good guide here.

How is it treated?

Fortunately, having a tongue or lip tie revised is a quick and easy procedure. Talk to your lactation consultant and ask for a referral to an ENT or a pediatric dentist who has been trained to do a frenotomy or frenectomy. Some doctors use lasers and some use specialized scissors to cut or remove the membrane which releases the tongue or lip and allows for free range of motion. Some doctors will use a local topical anesthetic but general anesthesia is not necessary for the procedure.


Can I just ignore it?

You can, but depending on the severity of the tie, it may not be a good idea. The potential problems for infants with unrevised lip and tongue ties include orthodontic problems, dental decay, speech problems and esthetic problems. As an adult, a lip and/or tongue tie can cause periodontal disease, esthetic problems with smile lines and poor oral hygiene.

I know finding out your perfect, precious baby has something “wrong” with them can be scary, but this is something that can be quickly and easily remedied. Both of my babies had tongue and lip ties. For the longest time after my daughter was born, I couldn’t figure out why we had such trouble with breastfeeding. For over a year, she and I struggled to breastfeed (we found a way to make it work but I suffered with painful cracked and bleeding nipples and she had colic, reflux and choked a lot while nursing). It wasn’t until I consulted with a lactation consultant who was trained to look for tongue and lip ties did I find out what our issue was.

At 14 months old, my daughter had her ties revised by laser. I wish I had done it so much sooner, but I ultimately chose to have it done despite her age because I didn’t want her to have dental and speech issues. When my son was born two years later, we had him evaluated immediately and his ties were revised (with a laser) when he was three days old. It made a world of difference in our breastfeeding journey.


If you feel like your child may have a tongue or lip tie, do not hesitate to consult with a lactation consultant. You don’t have to live so long with pain or infections, struggling to nurse your baby like I did. Getting your child’s ties revised as soon as possible will be the best thing you can do for your breastfeeding relationship!

About the Author /


Mother of two, writer, and owner of Sense & Serendipity Blog.


  • Claire
    September 14, 2017

    Hi great blog! Does running a blog like this take
    a massive amount work? I have virtually no knowledge of coding however I was hoping to start my own blog soon. Anyways, should you
    have any ideas or tips for new blog owners please share.
    I understand this is off subject but I simply wanted to ask.

    • Nina Spears
      September 14, 2017

      Hi, Claire! Yes, running a blog or media site takes a lot of work since you are constantly creating content, getting images, editing work, providing new articles daily, working with brands, etc. That doesn’t even include the social media side of things! If you’re interested in creating your own site, there are plenty of people that can help you with coding and setting up your website. WordPress is a great place to start. I first recommend figuring out what you want to write about–have a general direction and purpose to your writing and define who your target audience is–, then define your goals and get started! The designing is the fun part. Again, there are tons of people who can help you design and create your site at a low cost. I hope this helps!

  • Amber
    October 17, 2017

    My daughter also had a tongue and lip tie that we revised when she was two weeks old. Our breastfeeding journey was really tough and I would like to make sure things are different with the next baby. I’ve been told that tongue and lip ties are genetic and the chances are extremely high that my next baby will have them too. Do you have any suggestions for what to bring to the hospital and how to ensure my supply doesn’t drop for the two-three days I’m in the hospital post partum? I plan to have this next baby’s tongue and lip tie clipped as soon as I’m discharged. Thank you!

    • Cheyenne
      October 17, 2017

      Hi Amber! I would suggest consulting with a lactation consultant prior to delivery. She will be able to help you prepare for those first days nursing your baby before the tie is revised. I personally just nursed my baby (even tough it hurt) as much as he needed it until the tie was revised. It’s important to establish a nursing relationship from the get-go if you can! Good luck, mama!

  • Amy
    December 8, 2017

    My daughter has upper lip tie. I took her to a pediatric ENT when she was about a month old because of painful breastfeeding. But because my girl actually wasn’t having any problem breastfeeding, the doctor said he didn’t advise cutting the tie for what would be only potential future problems with dental or speech issues. I think he is a good doctor, but does that seem right? I think she is clearly going to have a gap tooth now that her teeth are coming in.

    • Cheyenne
      December 9, 2017

      Hi Amy! I am not a doctor so I can’t speak to whether his advice is right or not. But what I can say is the advice I was given by our pediatric ENT is that if a lip tie is not revised it may cause dental and speech problems in the future. My daughter had already started to get a large gap between her front teeth by the time we had her tie revised. Within a couple of months after it was cut, the gap closed and her teeth started growing in again. It may be a good idea to get a second opinion from a pediatric dentist before you make your decision. Good luck!

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