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An Explanation of Tongue Tie and Lip Ties in Babies

Dr Dermot J Murnane, Specialist Oral Surgeon

Tongue-tie is when the  tongue is attached to the floor of the mouth by a thin piece of tissue called a frenulum. Usually this piece of tissue is loosely attached, but in some babies it is tight and or short, stopping the tongue from moving freely.

What a tongue tie looks like varies, the band of tissue may attach to the tip of the tongue giving the tongue a heart shaped appearance,  or the tongue tie may be hard to see, hidden in the base of the tongue itself.

In ANTERIOR TONGUE TIE you can easily see a string of tissue (the frenulum) that attaches the tongue to the floor of the mouth.

In POSTERIOR TONGUE TIE this tissue is more difficult to see but can be felt on palpation. If this piece of tissue is too short or tight it can cause restriction of tongue mobility and as a consequence may affect the baby’s ability to breastfeed.

LIP TIE: Most people with a tongue tie will also have an upper lip tie. This is a tight connection between the upper lip and the bone of the upper jaw preventing the upper lip from everting. A baby needs to be able to evert their upper lip to form a good latch and seal while breastfeeding.

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