10 Myths About Tongue Ties and Lip Ties Written By: Dr. Dhwiti Savani, Edited By: Dr. Ankita Shah, Nov 2020

10 Myths About Tongue Ties and Lip Ties

The tongue is a mighty muscle which is essential for sucking, swallowing, eating, drinking, chewing, breathing, speech, jaw growth and even a role in improving digestion. Additionally it can also hamper breastfeeding, which is considered crucial not just in terms of weight gain for the infant, but also for developing the right tongue function for a correct airway and jaw development.

Although awareness related to the topic of tongue-ties is improving amongst parents and professionals, the impact of such a restriction is often excused or even ignored. With feeding difficulties, for instance, the mother might be told that “It is supposed to hurt for six weeks,” or “Babies are gassy and fussy or spit up,” or “Your baby is just a lazy nurser.” Such advice is often meant to be encouraging, but it ignores the problem or fails to even recognize the problem at all.

A tongue-tie CAN be the hidden reason behind nursing difficulties in babies; sleep issues, mouth breathing and picky eating in toddlers; speech issues, crooked teeth, incorrect jaw growth, posture issues in children to even headaches or neck and back pains in adults.


Ankyloglossia” commonly referred to as a Tongue Tie is a string of tissue that ties the tongue to the floor of the mouth which subsequently restricts tongue movements essential for the above mentioned functions.

Lip tie is a similar band of tissue that adheres the lip to the gums at a level much higher than normal which can lead to potential breastfeeding issues, a gap in between upper front teeth, cavities, inability to close the lips without strain and speech difficulties.

But it is too often overlooked, misdiagnosed, and written off by many healthcare providers.
Now that you have understood about the tie let's bust some myths related to the same !


The tongue-tie will stretch itself out/ My child will outgrow his/her tie!

FACT - Ties do not stretch or tear and will cause interference when attempting to achieve a good secure latch to the mother’s breast or bottle’s nipple.The tongue-tie is composed of a thick webbing of fascia that stretches less than 1%.If left untreated, it will persist into adulthood to show nursing difficulties in babies; compensations later in life.


A tongue tied infant cannot extend their tongue past their lower gum/lip!

FACT - Most of the infants with a tie can protrude their tongue out. This protrusion is not the correct way to assess the tongue functionality and a tie. The tongue needs to have a normal motion in ALL directions. The most important movement for the tongue during breastfeeding is UP and DOWN, RIGHT to LEFT not just IN and OUT.


What is the upper lip tie to do with feeding?

FACT - When the upper lip fails to elevate or flange upward adequately, it may interfere with the infant being able to maintain a good, secure latch.


All tongue-ties have speech issues!

FACT - Whilst certainly not all tongue tied children have speech issues, others struggle with sounds that require articulation by tongue with letters like R, S, L, Z, D, CH, TH, and SH. Even though some kids can make these sounds in isolation, stringing the sounds together during speech can be very difficult.


“Treating Tongue-Ties Is A Fad”/ Tongue- Tie is a new concept !

FACT - Tongue-ties have been written about for thousands of years. There have been references of this treatment being performed in the Bible and even in the 18th century where the midwives used their fingernails to divide the lingual frenulum.With the renewed emphasis on breastfeeding and more information with its long term impacts, we are now seeing increased diagnosis as well as treatment.


“Posterior Tongue-Tie Doesn’t Exist!”

FACT - The real restriction of a tongue tie is typically at the fascia which is a type of connective tissue covering the muscle. A posterior tongue-tie may not be visible to the naked eye as an obvious tongue tie but can be a symptomatic tongue restriction. Restricted fascia or webbing under the tongue is sometimes clearly visible, and other times is not easily seen. The baby or child who has no obvious string, but has all the symptoms of a tongue-tie often has a posterior tongue-tie. When released, parents see an immediate improvement because now the posterior aspect of the tongue can elevate better allowing for improved swallowing, speech, and sleep.


If your child has a lip-tie and/or tongue tie, you need to wait to revise the ties until he/she turns 1-2yrs old!

FACT - Infants who present with tethered oral tissues can, and should, be treated as early as they are born. Waiting does nothing to improve the latch, and can lead to more complex problems at a later age.


Tongue tie if left untreated rarely impacts any area of health in later years!

FACT - Untreated tongue ties in infants can lead to difficulty in chewing and swallowing foods, speech problems, altered jaw and dental development including a high palate and backwardly placed jaws, posture, poor sleep patterns, mouth breathing, snoring, sucking habits, frequent tonsils and adenoids, ADHD, clenching of teeth and increased gas and bloating resulting from poor tongue coordination and swallowing of air. Moreover, when tongue movement is restricted, the tongue cannot sweep across tooth surfaces to naturally cleanse teeth and may increase the risk of cavities too.


Tongue has nothing to do with the sleep, airway and breathing!

FACT - The back of the tongue should be resting high up on the palate. If only the front of the tongue rests on the top, the back of the tongue falls back and blocks the airway that makes it difficult to breathe through the nose.Tongue tie is one the things that affects tongue posture. And once you become a mouth breather a vicious circle of events start which is going to further affect breathing and sleep.


Tongue tied babies have no issues with eating and swallowing food!

FACT - When solids are introduced, eating difficulties appear to resurface, and kids are often labeled slow eaters, picky eaters and messy eaters. They tend to stuff a lot of food in their cheeks as the tongue cannot retrieve food that has fallen to the sides of your mouth, it builds up there. Once the cheeks are full, additional food cannot fall to the side which can make it easier to eat additional food.

Half knowledge on tongue and lip ties can have an adverse effect on you and your child and the ignorance regarding the research leads to various misconceptions.
ALWAYS ASK, never assume….!
Invest more in understanding the reason rather than following the herd because you know what's best for your child.

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Keywords : tongue tie, posterior tongue tie, lingual frenulum, tongue tied baby, tongue tie surgery, tongue tie release, tongue tie speech, lip tie

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