Everything you need to know about tongue and lip ties

Everything you need to know about tongue and lip ties

Get the low-down on Tethered oral tissues or TOTs, a condition that affects 5-10% of infants.

There is a large number of minor and major complications that can befall pregnancy, birth and infancy making it impossible for concerned parents-to-be to research all of them. Today we’d like to give some background on tongue and lip ties, collectively referred to as Tethered Oral Tissues (TOTs),  a condition that occurs in 5-10% of infants.

What is a tongue and lip tie?

A tongue tie is a medical condition present at birth where the bottom of the tongue is attached to the floor of the mouth by an unusually short, thick or tight membrane. A lip tie is a restriction that attaches the lip to the gums, near the 2 front teeth and is more commonly seen on the upper lip.

What causes TOTs to occur? 

This is a congenital condition meaning that it is present at birth. There is a strong genetic aspect resulting in its occurrence.

How can TOTs affect my child?

TOTs can cause issues early on from the initiation of breastfeeding.  Some babies will struggle to latch well onto the breast causing pain to the mother and damage to the nipples ( eg. bleeding, blisters ). Other babies will appear to latch on but spend a long time at the breast at each feed yet need to nurse frequently. This may be a sign of TOTs causing inefficient drawing of milk from the breast. Babies often tire easily from the extra effort of sucking and fall asleep at the breast before being completely satisfied, resulting in the need to nurse again soon after. Other signs of TOTs may include poor weight gain and an increased reflux tendency attributed to the baby swallowing a lot of air from shallow latching.

In severe cases if left untreated, tethered oral tissues can impact a child’s speech, feeding and swallowing. It could also potentially affect teeth alignment as well as the growth and development of the face and jaw.

Are there any maternal symptoms?

The maternal symptoms of TOTs are related to breastfeeding. These symptoms can include injured nipples, mastitis, plugged ducts and low milk supply. These symptoms can result in the mother feeling emotionally disappointed with breastfeeding and premature self-weaning.

How do I know if my baby has a tongue or lip tie?

Everything you need to know about tongue and lip ties

Surprisingly, a baby who is able to stick out their tongue may still be tongue tied.  As is the case with many medical conditions, symptoms vary widely. Ultimately, a comprehensive oral examination by a trained professional is the only way to diagnose this condition.

Everything you need to know about tongue and lip ties

What should I do if I think my infant has TOTs?

Visit a paediatric specialist to get a full examination of your baby. Paediatricians, paediatric dentists or paediatric surgeons are all well-versed in caring for infants and are likely to be the most up-to-date in the evolving field of breastfeeding medicine.

The best care for a breastfeeding dyad experiencing difficulties requires more than one doctor. Senior Parentcraft Consultant Dr Wong Boh Boi and Paediatric Dentist Dr Tabitha Chng are experts that practice with Thomson Medical who can help you with your baby’s TOTs.


Contact Info

Thomson ParentCraft Centre

Website: https://www.thomsonmedical.com/post-delivery/breastfeeding/

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 6251 4090

Thomson Specialist Dentistry

Website: http://www.thomsonspecialistdentistry.com/

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 6255 1771


Article contributed by Thomson Medical.

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