Big Apple Pediatric Dentistry

How Cheek, Lip, and Tongue Ties Affect Infant Feeding and Speech

How Cheek, Lip, and Tongue Ties Affect Infant Feeding and Speech

Reviewed by Dr. Henry Martinez, DMD

Cheek, lip, and tongue ties are common conditions that affect infants and young children. In our previous blog, “What Parents Need to Know About Cheek, Lip, and Tongue Ties“, we discussed what these ties are and how they can impact a child’s oral health and development.

While cheek, lip, and tongue ties can sometimes resolve on their own as a child grows, they can also cause feeding difficulties and speech delays if not addressed. 

This next blog will dive deeper into how these ties specifically affect infant feeding and speech.

Key Takeaway

Untreated cheek, lip, and tongue ties can present significant challenges to breastfeeding, potentially leading to painful nursing sessions and inadequate nutrition for the infant. Ties can also hamper speech development, causing difficulties in articulation and confidence issues as the child grows.

Cheek, Lip, and Tongue Ties and Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding can be very challenging if your child has a cheek, lip or tongue tie. If your baby is struggling to latch or is exceptionally fussy, this may indicate a tie. 

Symptoms Mothers May Notice While Breastfeeding

  • Pain or discomfort during and after breastfeeding
  • Difficulty maintaining a comfortable latch
  • Inflammation or injury to the nipples
  • Low milk supply or challenges with milk let-down
  • Frustration and anxiety due to feeding challenges
  • Frequent feedings with little infant weight gain
  • Symptoms of mastitis, such as breast pain, swelling, and fever

Symptoms Apparent in the Infant:

  • Fussiness or crying during feedings
  • Inability to latch deeply onto the breast
  • Frequent breaking of suction while feeding
  • Prolonged feeding times with inadequate milk intake
  • Poor weight gain despite frequent feedings
  • Clicking noises while feeding
  • Excessive drooling or spilling milk from the mouth during feeds
  • Gassiness or colic-like symptoms due to swallowing air while feeding

Symptoms While Bottle-Feeding

Bottle-fed infants may also experience feeding challenges. A proper seal between the bottle nipple and the infant’s mouth is vital for efficient sucking and swallowing. If there are any issues, you might notice things like:

  • Leaky feeding
  • Clicking noises
  • Your baby’s lips curling inwards during feeding

Challenges With Introducing Solid Food

As a child grows and begins to transition to solid foods, ties can also present difficulty with chewing and swallowing. Some common signs include:

  • Avoidance of certain foods or textures
  • Choking or gagging during meals
  • Food falling out of the mouth while eating
  • Slow eating and mealtime frustrations

Did You Know?

Studies estimate that 4-11% of newborns are affected by tongue ties. It may seem like a small percentage, but it can feel like a big deal when your little one is struggling to eat.

Cheek, Lip, and Tongue Ties and Speech Development

Our mouths play an important role in communicating with others. Any restrictions or limitations in the mouth can affect speech development. 

Ties can affect the position and movement of the tongue, lips, and cheeks, which are critical for pronouncing sounds and words. 

As a result, children with ties may experience difficulties with:

  • Pronouncing certain sounds like “T,” “D,” “B,” “P,” “M,” or “S”
  • Articulation of words and phrases
  • Vocabulary development
  • Fluency and rhythm in speech
  • Forming sentences and expressing themselves clearly
  • Speech delays compared to their peers
  • Self-confidence due to speech difficulties

Cheek, Lip, and Tongue Ties and Oral Hygiene

In addition to feeding and speech challenges, cheek, lip, and tongue ties can also affect oral hygiene. Ties can make it difficult for children to clean their mouths properly, leading to a higher risk of tooth decay and gum disease.

Children with ties may also have difficulty keeping their tongues in the correct position while eating or speaking, leading to poor teeth and jaw alignment.

For more information on how these ties can affect your children, read our blog, Tongue, Lip, and Cheek Ties Explained.

Early Intervention Is Key

Early detection and intervention can save you and your child a lot of frustration. If you notice any of the symptoms we’ve discussed in your child or yourself, book an appointment with a pediatric dentist. 

A pediatric dentist can identify and address any ties that may be impacting your child’s feeding or speech. In some cases, a quick procedure called a frenectomy may be recommended to release the tie and improve oral function. 

Big Apple Pediatric Dentistry: The Best Pediatric Dentist in Phoenix, AZ

Cheek, lip, and tongue ties can cause many problems for babies and young children. These conditions can make it hard for them to breastfeed, and they can also make it difficult for them to learn to speak properly. 

If you suspect your child may have a tie, reach out to Big Apple Pediatric Dentistry. 

If you are searching for a “kids dentist in Phoenix” or “frenectomy near me,” contact the experts at Big Apple Pediatric Dentistry. Call (602) 935-7427 or complete the online booking form.

Stay tuned for the next blog in our series, where we explore the treatment options available for children with cheek, lip, and tongue ties.