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Signs and Symptoms of Oral Restrictions

Updated: Jul 7, 2023

The means for diagnosing a tie is the function of the mouth, as well as the structure of the tie. This diagnosis needs to be done by a trained and trusted professional. This will always be true.

However, sometimes the ties are not evident to us parents. Sometimes the symptoms are more prevalent than the tie. Many times these symptoms are treated in isolation. However, these signs and symptoms can help pinpoint oral restrictions as the cause of the symptoms or act as red flags to look into potential oral restrictions.

This was the case for us. At birth, the doctor said he was not tongue-tied, as did his pediatrician at his two-week, one-month, and two-month appointments. But my son had a host of symptoms of oral restrictions. I was unaware these were indicators that something was wrong and they were repeatedly brushed off by medical professionals as "normal".

They were not "normal".

Here are the most common signs and symptoms of oral restrictions and the body tension associated with ties.

Signs and Symptoms in Infants:

Breastfeeding and bottle-feeding challenges for baby Difficulty latching

Shaking head at the breast

Difficulty maintaining a latch

Shallow latch

Lip sucking blisters

Lip not flanging (flaring) out

Chomping, gumming

Swallowing air


Seemingly always hungry

Falling asleep at the breast quickly

Long feeds

"Colic" or chronic, excessive fussiness



Frequent hiccups

Poor weight gain

Body Symptoms

Inability to lift tongue fully


Mouth breathing

Body asymmetry

Tense body

Distended tummy

Stiff neck and shoulder

Baby "lifting" their head early due to neck tension

Deep-set chin

Deep, red neck creases

Sleeping with mouth open

Poor resting oral posture (the tongue not resting on the roof of the mouth)

High palate

Thumbs curled inward

Other Symptoms

Chronic discomfort (especially in car seats)

Difficulty sleeping

Exceptionally loud sleeping (grunting and choking noises)

Nursing Mother's Symptoms

Painful latch

Cracked or bleeding nipples

Lipstick-shaped or flattened nipples

Breasts not emptying

Clogged ducts or Mastitis

Dropping supply

This is as exhaustive of a list as I feel comfortable with. There are a variety of other anecdotal signs and symptoms but these are the most common and frequently documented by my sources.

Again, these are not enough to diagnose oral restrictions. However, they may act as a red flag that something greater than the symptom may be going on. If your child showing these signs and symptoms, seek a trusted medical professional.


Baxter, R., Musso, M., Hughes, L., Lahey, L., Fabbie, P., Lovvorn, M., & Emanuel, M. (2018). Tongue-tied: How a tiny string under the tongue impacts nursing, feeding, speech, and more. Alabama Tongue-Tie Center.

Crumbie, L. (2022, November 30). Tongue. Kenhub.

Tongue & lip tie pt. Tongue & Lip Tie PT. (n.d.).


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