The first few weeks of a child’s life are a time of great joy but also much uncertainty for many parents, especially for those doing it for the first time.

Fortunately, most potential complications turn out either to be nothing or to work themselves out over time. However, at times, there are conditions that are worth paying attention to. Among them are both tongue ties and lip ties.  

So why should parents be extra attentive with these conditions? And what are the differences between a lip tie vs tongue tie? 

Read on to find all you need to know. 

What Is a Tongue Tie?

Also known as ankyloglossia in the medical world, a tongue-tie is when the membrane that connects the tongue to the bottom of the mouth (called the lingual frenulum) is either too thick, short, or deformed. 

This causes complications, as children with tongue ties can have trouble feeding and swallowing. In some cases, it can even affect a child’s speech. 

Why it happens is still up to debate, given that in most cases the lingual frenulum thins out before birth. The most likely understanding is that there could be some genetic factors in play, but the jury is still out. 

One challenge in diagnosing a tongue tie issue is if it is a posterior tongue tie. This is when the connection that is causing the issue lies further back in the mouth, meaning that it is less easy to identify. That being said, the treatment of both easily visible tongue ties (anterior) and posterior tongue ties are the same. 

What Is a Lip Tie?

Although there is a clear difference between a lip tie vs tongue tie, the cause of the issue is the same. 

Whereas with a tongue tie the membrane that causes it lies between the bottom of the mouth and the tongue, with a lip tie this membrane extends down to the gum. 

As well as issues with feeding, a lip tie can also cause complications with tooth development. In some cases, they can restrict teeth from coming through as well as cause misalignment. Tooth decay is a common complaint too, as it is easy for milk and other pieces of food to get stuck in the space between the upper lip and the gums.

For any of these issues, it is important to get into contact with a pediatric dentist lip tie specialist. 

Lip Tie vs Tongue Tie: The Symptoms

You may think that a lip tie or tongue tie is easy to identify. However, many parents miss the common signs of both conditions, attributing them to the baby being fussy or irritable. 

Therefore, it pays to be conscious of some of the other tell-tell signs of a lip tie or a tongue tie. 

One of the most obvious signs is trouble latching. Most babies with either condition will be unable to achieve a deep latch, which can result in much pain for nursing mothers. This is because an open mouth seal is necessary for a baby to suck correctly, and both lip ties and tongue ties prevent this from being possible. 

Other feeding-related signs can be choking on or spitting out milk, trouble breathing while feeding, and clicking sounds. These complications related to feeding can have an adverse effect on both the baby’s weight gain and also a mother’s milk supply, as the breast is not being emptied enough to stimulate more milk production.

Whilst most signs of lip ties are related to breastfeeding, if a child or adult has an untreated lip tie it can lead to a gap between the front teeth, a loss of gum tissue between teeth, and receding gums. 

Signs not related to breastfeeding for tongue ties are related to tongue movement. If you notice that your baby’s tongue is unable to move from side to side, is unable to reach out beyond the teeth, and cannot reach the roof of the mouth, then it is likely that they have a tongue-tie. 

If you begin to notice any of these signs, make an appointment with your Lexington pediatric dentist to be assessed and get a thorough diagnosis. 

How Are They Treated?

After being diagnosed, the natural question is, “What now?”

In some cases, if either the lip or tongue-tie is not severe, time can resolve the issue. However, if it is causing any of the symptoms mentioned above, a quicker and more permanent solution may be necessary.  

The most common and effective way of treatment regardless of whether we are talking about a lip tie vs tongue-tie is through a procedure called a frenectomy. 

This quick and effective procedure can be carried out by your kid’s dentist in Georgetown or Lexington and involves using a laser to cut the membrane, freeing up the space for the patient to have instant relief. In fact, many babies can latch well directly after the procedure. 

You will also be advised on post-operation exercises that will help your child regain the movement that was lacking as well as prevent the skin from reattaching afterward. 

Leave Your Child’s Tongue or Lip Tie in Safe Hands

We hope our breakdown has made clear the difference between a lip tie vs tongue tie. As we have seen, having either of these conditions can be the cause of much stress and anxiety for parents.

For this reason, if you suspect a lip or tongue tie to be the root cause of the issues you are facing, it is best to seek help from professionals. 

We at the Pediatric Dentistry of Hamburg have a specialized Tongue and Lip Tie Center. If you are looking for a pediatric dentist lip tie or tongue tie specialist and you live near either Lexington or Georgetown, then we would love to be able to help you find a solution. Fill out an online form today