The Effects of Not Treating Tongue Tie and Lip Tie

Oct 14, 2022

Have you been told that your child has a tongue tie or lip tie? Are you concerned about what that means for your child’s overall health? Castle Creek Pediatric Dentistry is here to help! For parents, every diagnosis, no matter how small, can cause a lot of stress and worry. The unknown is scary, especially when it comes to our kids. We are here to help you with valuable information so you can make a fully informed decision about treating your child’s condition.

What Is a Tongue Tie?

A tongue tie (ankyloglossia) is caused when the lingual frenulum — the tissue that holds your tongue in your mouth — is shorter than it should be. There are two types of tongue ties that can occur in children. An anterior tie is located in the front of the mouth. You can see the tissue simply by having your child lift their tongue. A posterior tongue is much more difficult to discern, as it restricts the tongue in the back of the mouth at the base of the tongue.

Tongue Tie Symptoms

  • Infants may struggle to nurse from breast or bottle
  • Infants may exhibit a constant need to eat that never seems satiated
  • Low or slow weight gain
  • Toddlers may experience speech issues
  • Toddlers may struggle to eat, stick out their tongue, swallow, drink or chew
  • Mouth breathing
  • Other tongue and teeth issues

Tongue ties are fairly common. The Cleveland Clinic notes that an estimated 10% of children are born with tongue ties. The condition is not painful to the child, but it can be harmful if left untreated. We will explore that further on, but first, let’s take a look at another form of tie that can cause complications for children, the lip tie.

What Is a Lip Tie?

A lip tie (superior labial frenulum) occurs with the upper frenulum is formed in such a way that it prevents the child from fully extending their upper lip outward or pulling inward for suction and closure. This issue has multiple levels that doctors and dentists use to determine the severity of the issue. A mucosal lip tie is the least severe and sits at the base where your gums and tissue meet. A gingival tie is situated further down the gums. A papillary tongue tie attaches to the gum above your front teeth. Papilla-penetrating tongue ties are considered a level 4 tongue tie and are the most complex. The tissue can actually spread down and between teeth and connect to your upper palate.

Symptoms of a Lip Tie

  • Infants may struggle to nurse from breast or bottle
  • Infants may exhibit a constant need to eat that never seems satiated
  • Clicking sounds while nursing
  • Low or slow weight gain
  • Gum loss
  • Crooked teeth
  • A gap between the front teeth

What Are the Potential Effects of a Tongue Tie or Lip Tie?

Some of the first questions parents ask when their child is diagnosed include: Are lip ties bad? What are the long-term effects of tongue ties? What happens if you don’t fix a lip tie? These are all excellent questions that we will try to answer here.

The long-term effects of a tongue tie or lip tie can be dangerous to infants and children. Anytime your child has difficulty getting proper nutrition is a cause for concern, especially when they are infants and toddlers. They need every nutrient to help them with their growth, cognitive development, and overall wellness. If you have noticed that your infant has trouble latching while feeding, or that your toddler seems to have difficulty eating normally, a tongue tie or lip tie may be the culprit.

The long-term effects of a lip tie or tongue tie can also go beyond general wellness and begin impacting other areas of your child’s development. The effects of a lip tie, for example, can restrict how a child forms their words when they are learning to speak. There are also associations between tongue ties and reflux. Tongue ties can eventually even cause tooth damage as the child or adult develops new habits to accommodate the problem, such as tongue thrusting and mouth breathing.

How Do You Treat a Tongue or Lip Tie?

Treating a tongue or lip tie is a simple procedure that can be performed by your pediatric dentist. When correcting tongue tie problems, the tissue that is holding the tongue in place is clipped in a brief, nearly painless procedure. Most parents have noted that infants begin eating better nearly immediately after completing the procedure. Lip tie complications are solved with a similar, simple clipping procedure that allows the lip its full range of motion.

Severe lip tie and tongue tie effects may require more time in order to maximize patient comfort and ensure the procedure is successful. The disadvantages of clipping the tongue tie are often temporary and similar to the complications of the tongue tie itself.

Compassionate Pediatric Dentistry

If you are concerned that your child may have a tongue or lip tie, or your child has been diagnosed with the condition, our experienced dentists would love to help. Give our practice a call today and we can help you improve your child’s health — and your stress levels.