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What are Tongue Ties?

Everyone has a tongue tie.  The question we should be asking is if the tongue tie is restricting the function of the tongue muscle.  The tie itself is a small band of tissue (a frenulum) that connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth. It is made of collagenous fiber that does not stretch.  The tissues and muscles around the tie may stretch to accommodate the ties, but the actual tie does not stretch.  It should be located in the middle of the tongue and connect to the middle of the mouth floor. The tongue is attached to 8 different muscles under the floor of the mouth. If the attachment is too far forward or too tight then the tongue cannot function properly. People often refer to this abnormality as being "tongue tied." The technical name for tongue tie is ankyloglossia.

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Tongue Tie Problems and Symptoms

Tongue ties can cause problems with breastfeeding because the tongue is restricted in its natural wave-like movement of sucking and feeding. They can cause nipple pain, latch problems, and poor weight gain.

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Medical/Dental Problems

The tongue is a very unique muscle.  It is the only muscle in the body that is connected only on one side.  Tongue ties cause problems with tongue function.

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Tongue Ties Treatment

The procedure to snip or cut a tongue tie is called a frenotomy.  The laser procedure to remove a tongue tie is called a frenectomy. 

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Lip Tie

Just like a tongue tie, everyone has a lip tie.  The vast majority of lip ties also have a tongue tie. The question we should be asking is if the lip tie is restricting the function of the lip muscle.

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Lip Tie Problems and Symptoms

Lip ties can cause problems with breastfeeding. When the lip is restricted, it can prevent the mouth from opening fully which does not allow the tongue to feed correctly. 

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Lip Tie Treatment

The procedure to cut a lip tie is called a labial frenotomy.  When scissors or a scalpel are used to cut a lip tie, it always bleeds because there is a thin layer of tissue over the tie.

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Buccal/Cheek Tie

Unlike upper lip and tongue ties, a buccal tie is NOT normal. The tie itself is a small band of tissue, a frenulum, that connects the cheek to the upper or lower gum line. It is made of collagenous fiber that does not stretch.

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Buccal/Cheek Tie Problems and Symptoms

In breastfeeding or bottle feeding, cheeks are solely meant to rest and guide milk back to the posterior tongue, which lowers during a swallow.  When cheeks are used to suck, instead of the tongue, more air is brought in and swallowed.

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Buccal/Cheek Tie Treatment

Buccal ties cannot be safely released with scissors or scalpel. I have tried many times with a diode laser but it is too hot, painful, and caused scarring in the area.

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