What is Lip Tie in babies and toddlers?

What is Lip Tie in babies and toddlers?

Lip tie occur commonly in babies and toddlers. Many parents may not be aware of this problem. They may have tried to figure out what is happening to their kids. Do you know how to tell whether someone has a lip or tongue tie?

If you believe that your child’s mouth has a problem, below is one possible cause. Keep reading to learn all about diagnosing and treating lip tie.

How A Lip Tie Forms

A lip tie is when a baby’s mouth’s labial frenum or frenulum is too tight. The labial frenum is the thin piece of flesh that connects the inner upper lip to the gum. You will feel it with your tongue as the piece of flesh under your upper lip. One of the main functions the lip frenulum carries out is to keep the upper lip stable and support it.

The other important function is the labial frenum helps to keep the lips growing at the same level as the growing maxilla bones. It provides uniformity in facial features. A lip tie is formed when this piece of flesh is short in length. In such a case, the frenulum often attaches onto the gum at a lower level than is customary.

The attachment in this position limits the movement of the upper lip. With limited movement, the baby may find it hard to breastfeed. It is important to have this condition treated to enable the baby to breastfeed and grow normally.

Sometimes lip tie is confused with tongue ties. They are very different. The tongue is attached to the bottom of the mouth by the lingual frenum. It is a thin piece of flesh similar to the labial frenum. In some cases, the lingual frenum does not thin out in the womb, making it short, which interferes with the tongue’s movement, leading to difficulties in eating and speaking.


Lip Tie Signs And Symptoms


Diagnosing a lip tie can be challenging because it is sometimes mistaken for a tongue tie. However, a combination of the signs below can lead to a diagnosis.


Common signs of the condition include:


  • Feeding takes a very long time, and the baby does not feel full
  • The baby sleeps before they finish feeding because they get tired
  • May experience reflux because of swallowing a lot of air
  • The baby may experience milk dribbling while feeding because the lips do not seal properly
  • Low weight gain
  • Colic and other digestive irritability
  • May find it hard to suck on a pacifier
  • The baby has trouble latching onto the nipple
  • The baby has trouble suckling at the breast
  • May have difficulty breathing while breastfeeding
  • Nibbling or grinding on the nipple constantly
  • Choking while breastfeeding
  • Clicking sound when nursing

For mothers who have a baby with a lip tie they may experience the following:


  • Pain during or after breastfeeding because of the baby nibbling the nipple
  • Breasts feel still full or engorged even after nursing
  • Blocked milk ducts as a result of the breasts still having milk even after breastfeeding
  • Constant breastfeeding and the baby does not get full

If you suspect your toddler could be suffering from a lip tie based on the signs above, it is recommended that you visit a pediatrician or pediatric dentist. They will be able to give a sure diagnosis based on how the baby’s mouth looks like. The signs they will look out for are a protruding upper lip, more than is usual, and a pale lip tie area.


Causes of Lip Tie


Children can either be born with lip tie or develop them over time. The condition may occur in families with children who experience other facial or mouth issues such as cleft palate. A lip tie can occur in an unborn baby while the mouth forms. The thin flesh of the frenulum is joined to the gum at a lower place than is usual.


The frenum may also not fully develop, making it short. Later, an injury can cause the labial frenum to shorten a child’s life. Most lip ties are thought to occur from a genetic predisposition. However, there is no scientific evidence supporting this view.


Four Types of Lip Ties


A lip tie can occur on the upper lip, the lower lip, or both lips. The classification is based on the severity of the condition. Class one lip ties are the least severe, while class four are the most severe type.


  • Class I– this lip tie is regular and will not show any symptoms. It is not usually treated as it does not interfere with the baby’s feeding or speech.
  • Class II– the labial frenum disjointed with the gum in the middle of the gum line as opposed to its end. A class II lip tie is barely symptomatic, but they can cause hygiene problems. They can also easily tear in extreme accidents or traumas.
  • Class III -In this case, the frenum attaches to the teeth cavity or alveolar ridge. As a result, the child usually finds it hard to move the lip in an upward motion. The attachment of the frenum also causes space in the front teeth where it is attached. It can make it hard to brush the teeth properly and potentially lead to tooth decay. It is advisable to have Class III lip ties treated.
  • Class IV – is the case that needs medical attention. In this case the frenum will attach to the whole alveolar ridge. The attachment in this position makes it hard to have excellent dental hygiene, leading to tooth decay. It is recommended that you seek treatment for this type of condition.

Lip Tie Treatments


Once your pediatrician or pediatric dentist has diagnosed a lip tie, they recommend a suitable treatment for your baby and toddler. The first treatment option is having a frenectomy done. The medical professional will cut off a part of the the frenum to make it looser in this procedure.


The cutting is done by using laser surgery which is not painful. A frenectomy can also be done under a local anesthetic. The procedure takes a short while, under fifteen minutes, and the recovery time is fast.


The procedure process is as follows:


The mother will lie on the dental chair holding the baby’s mouth open. The pediatric dentist then applies a local anesthetic and uses lasers to accurately cut a part of the frenum and loosen it. The cut is automatically cauterized immediately by the laser beam so that there is no bleeding, and the wound begins to heal immediately. The dentist will then give you recovery instructions, including hygiene practices and exercises. The exercises are essential to prevent the lip tie from recurring again.


Complete healing takes place within ten to fourteen days. In some cases, it takes up to three weeks. Your baby or toddler may experience mild discomfort but hardly any pain. You may need to go back to the dentist for an examination. If any complications arise, such as pain or the baby cannot breastfeed normally, it is advisable to go back and see the dentist.


Untreated Lip Tie Complications


If lip ties are not treated in babies and toddlers, the following issues could arise:


  • Trouble nursing and eating: A lip tie can prevent the baby from latching onto the nipple and suckling enough. They can also make it difficult for toddlers to shape their lips correctly around a spoon. It can lead to low weight gain interfering with their healthy development.
  • Increased Dental Issues: a lip tie can make it challenging to clean trapped food effectively. It can result in increased tooth decay in toddlers.
  • Hindrances while talking: Your toddler may find it difficult to form some words leading to challenges in normal speech development
  • Abnormal growth patterns: The frenum helps the lips grow in tandem with maxillofacial bones; however, a lip can lead to directional facial bones growth affecting normal development.
  • Interfere with sleep: A lip tie can interfere with children’s sleep because the baby cannot make the suckling motion to soothe herself to sleep. In other instances, babies will sleep more because breastfeeding becomes tiring.

It is best to seek early treatment once you suspect your child may have a lip tie.


If you suspect that your baby has this condition, it is advisable to come into Smile Angels for a firm diagnosis. We are experienced in performing frenectomy procedures using the best technology. You can call our office and schedule an appointment and get immediate help for your baby and toddler today.

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