Eliminating An Infant’s Lip Or Tongue Tie Can Make Breastfeeding Easier

Most babies come into the world ready and able to nourish at their mother’s breast through breastfeeding. No training is required! About one in ten children may have a structural abnormality with their tongue or lip that makes it difficult for them to breastfeed.

Frenum or Frenulum

The abnormality involves a small strip of tissue called a frenum or frenulum. It is found in the mouth connecting soft tissue to more rigid structures. You’ll find a frenum attaching the upper lip to the gums. While another connects the tongue’s underside to the mouth’s floor.

Frenums are a normal part of oral anatomy and usually don’t pose a problem. But if the frenum tissue is too short, thick, or tight, it could restrict lip or tongue movement. If so, a baby may not be able to achieve a good seal on their mother’s nipple, causing them to chew ineffectively rather than suck to access the mother’s milk. Such a situation guarantees an unpleasant experience for both mother and baby.

The problem can be addressed with a minor surgical procedure performed in a dentist’s office. The dentist first numbs the area with an anesthetic gel during the procedure. The frenum is then snipped with scissors or a laser.


With very little, if any, post-procedure care, the baby can immediately begin nursing. But although the physical impediment may be removed, the child may need to “relearn” how to nurse. It may take time for the baby to readjust and could require help from a professional.

Nursing isn’t the only reason for dealing with an abnormally shortened frenum. Abnormal frenums can interfere with speech development and may even widen gaps between the front teeth, contributing to poor bite development. Clipping a frenum early is often worthwhile before it creates other problems.

It isn’t absolutely necessary to deal with a “tongue” or “lip tie” in this manner. The bottle can nourish a baby. But to gain the physical and emotional benefits of breastfeeding, taking care of this particular problem early may be a good option.

If you would like more information on the problem of tongue or lip ties in infants, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Tongue Ties, Lip Ties, and Breastfeeding.”