Visual Indicators of Tongue and Lip Ties

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The majority of people are familiar with the term “tongue tied,” which is used to describe someone who stammers nervously and is at loss for words. But in reality, tongue tie is a medical condition that can interfere with a person’s ability to eat and speak. Tongue tie and lip tie are conditions present at birth, and can have major implications in a baby’s ability to feed. In this blog post, the speech therapists at Innovative Speech Language Pathology in Los Angeles discuss visual indicators of tongue and lip ties, as well as other symptoms parents should keep an eye out for.

But First…

What exactly are tongue and lip ties? Tongue tie occurs when the bottom of the tongue is attached to the floor of the mouth, limiting the tongue’s range of motion. It is a condition that can interfere with breastfeeding or a child’s ability to eat, speak and swallow properly.

Lip tie is a condition that occurs when the muscular tissue located between the two front teeth and under the upper lip, known as the frenulum, is too short or thick and too tightly pinned to the upper gum, restricting the upper lip’s range of motion. Like tongue tie, lip tie can also cause problems with breastfeeding, eating and speaking.

Visual Indicators

Tongue and lip ties can vary in appearance from child to child. But the most common indicator of a tongue tie is when the tip of the tongue has a square or heart shaped (i.e., “forked”) appearance. Tongue ties can also cause the tongue to look dimpled, especially when in motion. In the case of a lip tie, most children will have a gap between the two front teeth as the excess muscular tissue (frenulum) keeps the teeth apart. A baby with a lip tie may also tuck in their upper lip when nursing due to their limited ability to lift up the lip. As a result, blisters may appear on the upper lip.

Symptoms of Tongue and Lip Ties

Every baby is different. However, most babies with tongue and lip ties have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Poor latch or inability to latch onto the nipple
  • Sliding off the nipple
  • Fatigue during breastfeeding
  • Poor weight gain
  • Making a clicking noise during breastfeeding
  • Dribbling milk at the breast or bottle
  • Digestive issues
  • Increased gassiness and reflux
  • Irritability or fussiness during or after breastfeeding

Keep in mind that not all tongue or lip restrictions are tongue or lip ties. If you are concerned your child has a lip or tongue tip, it’s best to consult with a doctor to determine your options on how to remedy the issue. If your child experiences speech or eating difficulties because of a tongue or lip tie, Innovative Speech Language Pathology can help. To speak to a trained and experienced therapist on our team, schedule a consultation by calling (310) 659-9511 today.