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National Breastfeeding Month: Understanding Tongue Or Lip Ties

Not many people would think to bring their infant in to see a pediatric dentist. After all, before the eruption of their first little teeth, what reason would you have to call and schedule an appointment?

Believe it not, if your infant is having difficulty breastfeeding, that in and of itself may actually be a reason to pick up the phone.

Breastfeeding challenges are often an indicator of a common problem known as a tongue or lip tie — and your local pediatric dentist is the professional you’ll want to turn to if your child is struggling with such ties.

That said, you may be wondering …


What are tongue and lip ties?

According to Breastfeeding USA, a child’s tongue and/or lips are considered “tied” if their tongue and lip movements are restricted to the point where their mobility is impaired.

In specific, lip ties occur when a baby’s frenulum (the small membrane of tissue underneath the upper lip) is too thick or stiff.

Tongue ties function similarly, where the tissue connecting the tongue to the base of the mouth is stiff enough to diminish a child’s movement and comfort.

While tongue and lip ties are not dangerous, they can still negatively impact a child’s overall health as they can impede breastfeeding ability.


How do I know if my child has a tie? And how do these ties affect breastfeeding?

Difficulty breastfeeding is actually one of the most common and noticeable symptoms resulting from a tie. In fact, when breastfeeding, you might notice that your child:

  • Struggles to latch on to your breast while nursing
  • Struggles to breathe while nursing
  • Makes continual clicking sounds while nursing
  • May fall asleep during or be extremely fatigued following nursing


Additionally, if your child experiences slow weight gain— or an overall lack thereof — this may be another sign they are struggling to feed properly because of tongue or lip tie.


What can I do to help my child?

The good news is that tongue and lip ties can be released in less than three seconds with no pain, no bleeding, and no downtime for recovery!

Laser technology renders this process seamless and easy, meaning your child will be more comfortable and healthy in the long-run. This process may also make breastfeeding less physically painful for the mother.

And our in-house pediatric dentists at McIlwain Dental Specialists know how to perform this procedure! If your child has a tongue or lip tie, or if you have further questions about how our laser technology can help, make sure to contact us today by calling (813) 879-8097 South Tampa office or (813) 991-9893 Wesley Chapel Office.