Child with a Tongue Tie or Lip Tie?  A frenectomy may be the answer!


Frenectomy at Happy Kids Dental in london

Children may be born with a combination of conditions called a tongue tie  and/or a lip tie causing restrictions in tongue movement that can cause difficulty with breastfeeding, and in some instances, other health problems like dental decay or spacing, speech and airway difficulties, and digestive issues.  These issues can generally be corrected by a simple procedure, called a frenectomy.

What is a frenectomy? 

In a frenectomy, the band of tissue that connects or holds down the part of the body such as the tongue, lip or cheek, is disconnected.

How does frenectomy work? 

More and more, parents are opting for a safe, fast-healing laser frenectomy. At Happy Kids Dental we use the most advanced Generation The Epic™ X Laser developed by BIOLASE. This is a diode laser that is recognised worldwide as the best method for tongue tip and lip tie treatment.

There are multiple benefits to using this laser:

  1. Efficiency – the procedure takes less than 20min and needs no stitches.
  2. A Diode laser works with light energy so there is very little discomfort with the procedure.  There is almost no bleeding and some babies and children sleep through the procedure. 
  3. The laser sterilises upon touch, therefore, the risk of infection is minimal, if any.
  4. Healing is much quicker and uncomplicated. The result is healthy and healed tissue, with less chance of regrowth (relapse).

what is TONGUE TIE ? 

Tongue tie (or ankyloglossia) is when the piece of skin under a baby’s tongue is attached to the tongue. In most babies, this piece of skin separates from the front end of the tongue before they’re born.

A tongue-tie is sometimes diagnosed during a baby’s routine newborn check, but it’s not always easy to spot. It may not become apparent until your baby has problems feeding.

tongue tie in babies

Picture source: Mayo Foundation for medical research

Tongue tie symptoms: can I see if my baby has a tongue tie?

Normal tongue function is important for multiple reasons. Normal tongue function will allow a baby to latch adequately and breastfeed efficiently, promote normal speech development, make it possible for a child to self-cleanse their mouth during eating, allow adequate swallowing patterns, allow for proper growth and development, and it makes fun little things like eating ice cream, playing a wind instrument or sticking their tongue out to catch snowflakes possible.

Signs that your child might have a tongue tie:

  • The tip of your baby’s tongue looks notched or heart-shaped when they stick it out
  • They have difficulty sticking their tongue out
  • The tip of your baby’s tongue can’t reach the roof of their mouth or further than the edge of their lower lip.
  • They have difficulty moving their tongue from side to side

Tongue Tie and breastfeeding

Babies with a tongue tie, may have issues, such as:

  • Trouble latching on or staying attached to your breast
  • Feeding for a long time, have a short break, then feeding again
  • Being unsettled and seeming hungry all the time
  • Failing to gain weight as quickly as they should
  • Making a “clicking” sound when feeding
  • Excessive gassiness

Tongue Tie and bottle feeding

When feeding from a bottle a baby uses the middle part of their tongue more than the tip, so it is not so important to have a mobile tip of the tongue. If the tongue tie is affecting feeding the following signs may be present:

  • Excessive dribbling 
  • Poor weight gain
  • Taking a long time to feed 
  • Excessive gassiness

Your baby won’t necessarily have all the signs mentioned if they are having problems with breast feeding or bottle feeding due to a tongue tie or lip tie. But if your baby is experiencing any of the signs above, or you feel concerned that your baby may have a tongue tie or a lip tie, you may want to discuss it with your GP, midwife, paediatrician or breastfeeding specialist.

Tongue tie in older children and adults:

A tongue tie can sometimes cause problems such as speech difficulties, difficulty eating certain foods and difficulty cleaning teeth. Some other problems are appearance-related, such as a wide gap between the bottom two front teeth, or a V-shaped notch in the end of the tongue.

Check with a Speech and Language Therapist if more than half of a 3-year-old child’s speech is not understood by people outside of the family or if the child has difficulty licking an ice cream cone.


A lip tie occurs when the upper lip remains attached to the upper gum. Challenges that can occur in children and infants with moderate to severe lip ties:


  • Pain with breastfeeding
  • Issues with attachment during breastfeeding, as a baby will not be able to raise the upper lip and attach well to the breast

Older children:

  • Spacing between the two central teeth (a large gap can form called a diastema)
  • Difficulties with brushing and flossing
  • Increased risk of dental decay

What can I expect when the frenectomy is done?  

Breastfeeding immediately after the procedure is fine as breast milk contains amazing healing properties and the simple act of breastfeeding will reassure and soothe the baby.

It is possible that latching will be a struggle at first since we would use a small amount of anaesthetic to complete the procedure.  The numbness will wear off about 30-45 minutes after the procedure.  Do not be alarmed if latching is difficult at first. 

Tongue ties can vary in severity and can include what we call a “posterior tongue tie”, which may require a few weeks of practice before seeing the benefits of the frenectomy.  We recommend to be thorough with the prescribed post treatment exercises and to work with a  lactation consultant.

Is your child’s lingual tongue tie or lip tie causing discomfort or limiting their ability to eat, speak, or swallow? Complete the form or call us to arrange your appointment!

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Dr.Zoe Tzelapi is a paediatric dentist, she has almost 10 years of experience and has an expert knowledge children’s jaw development.

Paediatric Dentist
DDS, DDent Paediatric Dentistry
Certificate Special Care Dentistry
GDC No. 216713

Dr. Zoe completed her undergraduate training in Greece and obtained her dental degree in 2011 from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki with a grade that ranked 6th among the graduates of her year. Following her graduation, she started offering volunteer dental treatment in a centre for the care of children with disabilities in Greece, before relocating to the UK in order to continue with her postgraduate education. Zoe is registered with the GDC since October 2011 and has been working in practice since then. She is also a member of the British Society of Paediatric Dentistry (BSPD), the European Society of Paediatric Dentistry (EAPD) and has been attending seminars and conferences related to the field of Paediatric Dentistry over the years. Read more about Zoe here.,