Big Apple Pediatric Dentistry

What Parents Need to Know About Cheek, Lip, and Tongue Ties

What Parents Need to Know About Cheek, Lip, and Tongue Ties

Reviewed by Dr. Henry Martinez, DMD

Reading time: Four minutes.

Welcome to our blog series about cheek, lip, and tongue ties. These common conditions affect many infants and children, causing feeding difficulties and other challenges. 

As a parent, it’s important to understand how they can impact your child and what treatment options are available.

At Big Apple Pediatric Dentistry, our pediatric dentist, Dr. Martinez, specializes in diagnosing and treating tongue, lip, and cheek ties. 

In this first blog post, we will provide an overview of cheek, lip, and tongue ties and why early detection is vital.

Each new blog post will take you deeper into the topic, so you can gain a complete understanding of how ties affect your child’s oral health and development.

Key Takeaway

A cheek tie is when the tissue that connects the cheeks to the gums is unusually tight or thick. A lip tie is when the tissue that connects the upper lip to the gums is thick or tight. A tongue tie is when the tissue connecting the tongue to the floor of the mouth is unusually tight or thick.

Tongue, Lip, and Cheek Ties Explained

Tongue, lip, and cheek ties, collectively known as tethered oral tissues (TOTS), are conditions caused by tight connective tissue. 

The frenum is a fibrous tissue that connects and holds other tissues in their respective places. A frenum may be short, thick, or tight, or it may extend too far down along the tongue, gum, palate, or cheeks. 

If a frenum obstructs normal function or restricts movement, a simple surgical procedure known as a frenectomy can be performed to correct it.

What Is a Tongue Tie?

All babies are born with a piece of tissue called a lingual frenum that connects the tongue to the floor of their mouth. 

In some children, this frenulum is too tight or thick and causes a tongue tie, also known as ankyloglossia. 

This can restrict the movement of the tongue and affect its function, leading to difficulties with breastfeeding, swallowing, and speech development. 

Studies suggest that approximately 4-11% of newborns have a tongue tie, which can often go undiagnosed. It is more common in boys than girls and can be hereditary.

What Is a Lip Tie?

A lip tie is a condition where the tissue called the labial frenum that connects the upper lip to the gums is thick or tight. 

This can cause restrictions in movement and affect breastfeeding, tooth development, and speech.

What Is a Cheek Tie?

A cheek tie, also known as a buccal tie, is where the band of tissue connecting the cheeks to the gums is unusually tight or thick. 

The limited range of motion caused by cheek tie can impact breastfeeding and oral hygiene and cause speech difficulties.

What Causes Cheek, Lip, and Tongue Ties?

These ties are congenital conditions, meaning they are present at birth. They occur when the thin tissue that connects the tongue, lip, or cheek to the mouth does not fully recede during fetal development.

Research has also shown a possible genetic link for these ties. If you or your partner had a tie, your child might be more likely to have one too.

Why Is Early Detection Important?

Early detection is essential for successful treatment. If left untreated, it can lead to various issues, such as:

  • Difficulty with breastfeeding, leading to inadequate nutrition and weight gain
  • Difficulty with proper oral hygiene
  • Improper tooth alignment and even changes in facial structure
  • Sleep issues, such as sleep apnea
  • Speech delays or difficulties
  • Dental issues such as tooth decay

By recognizing these ties early on, you can work with your pediatric dentist to address potential problems and improve your child’s oral health.

Why See a Pediatric Dentist?

Pediatric dentists have specialized knowledge and experience working with young children and infants, making them the best option to diagnose and treat these conditions. 

During routine dental check-ups, they can identify these ties and recommend an appropriate course of action, ensuring your child’s oral health and overall development stay on track.

Parents should bring their child for their first dental visit by age one or when the first tooth emerges, whichever comes first. This allows us to closely monitor your child’s oral health and development and promptly address any concerns.

Big Apple Pediatric Dentistry – Your Kids Dentist in Phoenix, AZ

Understanding cheek, lip, and tongue ties is the first step in ensuring your child’s oral health and development are on the right path.

We understand the anxieties and questions that can arise when facing issues like cheek, lip, and tongue ties. Our team focuses on early detection and intervention to ensure the best outcomes for you and your child. Let us guide you through this journey with expert care and attention to your concerns.

Our skilled pediatric dentist, Dr. Martinez, is well-equipped to provide compassionate and proficient dental care to children with special needs. With his extensive experience with pediatric patients, he can treat children at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

If you are searching for a ‘top pediatric dentist near me’ or ‘frenectomy near me,’ we are here to help! Call (602) 935-7427 or complete the online booking form.

Stay tuned for the next blog in our series: The Impact of Cheek, Lip, and Tongue Ties on Infant Feeding and Speech Development.