What Are The Treatment Options for Tongue and Lip Ties In Children?

Many children are born with dental issues that are out of their control. The great news is that advances in dentistry have made these conditions quite treatable. Today, Accent Smile Center will answer this question: What are the treatment options for tongue and lip ties in children?

About Tongue and Lip Ties

These conditions both restrict the movement of the tongue or lip, most prevalently in infants and children. Here are the differences and how they occur:

  • Tongue Tie (Ankyloglossia): When the lingual frenulum—the piece of tissue connecting the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth—is shorter, thicker, or tighter than usual, problems can occur. The main issue is how the range of motion of the tongue is impacted, affecting functions like breastfeeding, swallowing, speech, and oral hygiene. Tongue tie can vary in severity, from minimal symptoms to severe impairment. 
  • Lip Tie: These involve the labial frenulum, which is the band of tissue that connects the upper lip to the gum line. It can be too tight or too thick and restrict movement or cause dental issues and speech problems.

If you’re unsure whether or not your child may have one of these conditions, these are some of the common symptoms:

  • Less weight gain than normal in infants
  • Making clicking sounds while breastfeeding
  • Nipple pain and trauma for breastfeeding mothers
  • Issues sticking out the tongue past their lower front teeth
  • Difficulty moving their tongue from side to side
  • Difficulty with certain speech sounds (e.g., “l,” “r,” “t,” “d”)
  • Complications with dental development
  • Oral hygiene issues, such as difficulty cleaning the teeth or increased risk of tooth decay

What Are The Treatment Options for Tongue and Lip Ties In Children?

Treatment Options

A variety of solutions exist for these issues, though treatment can only be decided by a specialist like Dr. Gatgens, Dr. Densmore, or Dr. Noble. In certain cases, other experts can be consulted. Our Dr. Gatgens is proud to be certified in laser treatment, in particular. 

The following options tend to be the most effective:

  • Frenectomy: This is a minor surgical procedure where the band of tissue (frenulum) is cut or released. The procedure can be done using sterile scissors, laser, or electrocautery. It’s a quick and relatively painless process, often performed in-office without the need for anesthesia.
  • Frenuloplasty: In situations where the frenulum is particularly thick or extensive, a more involved surgical procedure may be recommended. This involves making an incision to release the tight tissue and stitching the wound closed. This would be performed under general anesthesia in a hospital setting.
  • Myofunctional Therapy: After the procedure, myofunctional therapy can be used to help retrain the tongue and mouth muscles to function properly. This will involve exercises and techniques aimed at improving tongue posture, swallowing patterns, and overall oral function.
  • Breastfeeding Support: If the lip or tongue tie is causing difficulties with breastfeeding, lactation consultants or breastfeeding specialists can provide support and guidance. In some cases, permanent or temporary changes in technique can be necessary to accommodate a child’s oral anatomy.
  • Orthodontic Intervention: In cases where the tie affects dental development or occlusion, orthodontic treatment may be recommended. This can include the use of orthodontic appliances or braces to address any issues related to tooth alignment or jaw positioning.



As with any conditions like these, it’s perfectly normal and understandable to have questions—especially as parents. Our doctors will be an excellent resource for specific questions you may have regarding your child, but here is some other general information that may help in the meantime:

Q: How common are tongue and lip ties?

These can be relatively common, with some estimates suggesting they affect around 4-10% of newborns. However, the severity will widely vary from child to child. 

Q: Are there long-term consequences to untreated tongue and lip ties?

Yes, long-term consequences are likely when they aren’t addressed. Speech issues and malocclusion are possible, as well as challenges maintaining oral hygiene. Early attention can be preventative and mitigate some of these complications.

Q: Can they be hereditary?
There could be a genetic component to tongue and lip ties, as they can run in families. However, not all children born to parents with ties will necessarily have the same condition at birth.

Q: What is the recovery process after a frenectomy?

Typically, it’s a straightforward process. Babies may experience some mild discomfort or fussiness directly after the procedure, but this usually resolves quickly. Breastfeeding can often be resumed immediately, and discomfort can be managed with gentle care and soothing techniques.

What Are The Treatment Options for Tongue and Lip Ties In Children?

Reliable Solutions

If you suspect your child or infant may be suffering from a tongue or lip tie or have decided it’s time to seek treatment, our team is the perfect option. We are proud to have two locations: Dickson and Belle Meade.