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The Ultimate Guide to Lip Ties

Updated: Jul 6, 2023

Lip ties, also known as upper lip ties or labial frenulum ties, are a relatively common condition that can affect infants, children, and even adults. They can sometimes lead to breastfeeding difficulties, speech issues, and oral health concerns. In this blog, we will delve into the causes, effects, and available treatment options for lip ties, providing a comprehensive overview for parents, caregivers, and individuals seeking information about this condition.

What is a Lip Tie?

A lip tie occurs when the tissue that connects the upper lip to the gum line (labial frenulum) is too tight, thick, or positioned too far down toward the teeth. This condition can restrict the movement of the upper lip, causing various problems depending on the severity of the tie.


As with tongue ties, there are four main classes of lip ties.


Class 1 lip ties are called mucosal ties. In a class 1 lip tie, there is no significant attachment between the lip and the gum. According to Dr. Ghaheri, these are rare and do not restrict lip movement or function, unless the frenulum is especially short and tight.

Class 2 lip ties are called gingival (gum) ties and occur when the labial frenulum attaches the lip to the gum tissue above the gum line.

Class 3 lip ties are papillary ties, where the labial frenulum attachment will be at the gum line.

Class 4 lip ties. called papilla penetrating ties. are the most severe class of lip ties where the frenulum wraps around the hard palette.

Causes and Symptoms:

As with tongue ties, the exact causes of lip ties are not fully understood, but it is believed to be a result of genetic and developmental factors. Some common signs of lip ties in infants include:

  1. Breastfeeding difficulties: A tight lip tie can make it challenging for infants to latch properly during breastfeeding, causing discomfort and frustration for both the baby and the mother. This can look like a shallow latch, a curled under upper lip rather than a flared-out upper lip, popping off the breast, milk leaking, and nursing lip blisters.

  2. Speech issues: In older children, a lip tie can affect speech development. It may lead to difficulties pronouncing certain sounds, particularly those requiring the use of the upper lip, such as "p," "b," and "m."

  3. Oral health concerns: Lip ties can contribute to dental issues, including a gap between the front teeth or gum recession. The restricted movement of the upper lip may hinder proper oral hygiene practices, increasing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.

Treatment Options:

When a lip tie causes significant problems, treatment may be necessary. Here are some common options:

  1. Watchful waiting: In some cases, when the function is not affected and there are no active symptoms, a lip tie may naturally resolve or cause minimal issues over time. Regular monitoring by a healthcare professional is recommended to ensure proper growth and development.

  2. Frenectomy: Also known as a release is when tight tissue is snipped or released using sterile scissors or a laser.

  3. Frenuloplasty: In more severe cases, a frenuloplasty may be recommended. This procedure involves a small incision in the frenulum to release the tight tissue. It is usually performed under general anesthesia and may require a longer recovery period compared to a frenotomy.


Post-Treatment Care:

After a lip tie procedure, aftercare is essential. This usually includes stretching exercises to prevent the frenulum from reattaching, maintaining oral hygiene, and offering pain relief if necessary. Infants may need physical therapy or a lactation consultant to re-establish a proper latch.


Lip ties can present challenges for infants, children, and adults alike, affecting breastfeeding, speech, and oral health. Recognizing the signs and seeking appropriate medical advice is crucial for timely intervention. While not all lip ties require treatment, those causing significant issues may benefit from procedures like frenotomy or frenuloplasty.


Finding a trusted healthcare professional can be difficult. We're here to help you find the support you need to determine the best course of action for you or your child's specific situation.





*Freed Up Mama is not a medical professional. This blog is for educational and advocacy purposes only. Please seek a trusted medical professional if you suspect you may need treatment for oral restrictions.


References:


"The difference between a lip tie and a normal labial frenulum." Dr. Ghaheri, 9 Oct. 2014, www.drghaheri.com/blog/2014/10/8/the-difference-between-a-lip-tie-and-a-normal-frenulum. Accessed 5 Jul. 2023.

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