What is tongue tie?

Tongue tie is a condition present at birth. It occurs when the lingual frenulum – the strip of skin that connects the tongue to the bottom of the mouth, is attached too far forward on the tongue, is too short, or too thick. Depending on which population and data source you look at, somewhere between 5% and 15% of people are born with tongue tie. In some cases, these ties might never present any symptoms. However, in some cases it presents many difficulties.

Young woman with healthy tongue mobility. Tongue tie

Symptoms of tongue tie

The symptoms of ties oftentimes present in infancy. Ties can cause issues in breastfeeding for both mother and child. If a breastfeeding infant has trouble latching, chews excessively, isn’t gaining weight as expected, fusses while feeding, or makes clicking noises, they could have tongue tie. Tongue tie also oftentimes presents alongside lip tie, but we’ll save that one for another post.

In older patients, these ties are most commonly diagnosed because of its impact on speech patterns. Myofunctional therapy can play a large role in rectifying these speech problems – we’ll get to that shortly.

Classifying ties

There are four classes of ties. While class 1 is the most noticeable and severe, all classes of ties can cause problems – it just depends on the individual circumstances of the case. In a class 1 tie, the lingual frenulum is attached far forward, almost to the tip of the tongue. Class 2 and 3 tongue ties attach progressively further back on the tongue, but can still be seen by lifting the tongue. Class 1-3 tongue ties are known as anterior ties, while a class 4 tie is called a posterior tie.

Check back soon for part two! In the meantime, check out our page on tongue tie treatment and myofunctional therapy.