Lip Tie Problems Later In Life: Causes, Symptoms & Solutions

Lip tie is a condition where the upper lip is tightly connected to the gum line, causing potential problems later in life. It can result from genetic factors or issues during fetal development.

While it may not immediately affect infants, it can lead to difficulties as they grow, including breastfeeding challenges, speech issues, dental problems, and potential psychological impacts. These all are lip tie problems later in life.

Fortunately, solutions like frenectomy (a minor surgical procedure), speech therapy, orthodontic intervention, and proper oral hygiene can address lip tie. Early identification and intervention are crucial for minimizing the impact on overall health and ensuring a better quality of life.

What is a Lip Tie?

You know, a lip tie, sometimes called a labial frenulum, is when that little piece of tissue connecting your upper lip to your gums is shorter or thicker than it usually is.

It’s the kind of thing you might not think about until it causes problems, especially in babies and little kids. Lip ties aren’t all the same; they can range from no big deal to causing real trouble.

Causes Of Lip Tie

You know, when it comes to lip ties, there isn’t always a clear-cut reason why they happen. But there are a few of elements that could play a role in someone developing a lip tie:


It seems that family history can come into play. If others in your family have had lip ties or other mouth structure issues, it could up the chances of a child having one too. It’s kind of like passing down traits through generations.

Fetal Development

 Sometimes, lip ties are just there from the start, even before birth. They might have something to do with how a baby’s mouth and lips develop while they’re still in the womb.

Abnormal Tissue Formation

Now and then, the tissue in that little frenulum just doesn’t grow the way it should. It can end up too thick or too short, and that’s what leads to a lip tie.

Environmental Factors

Although it’s less common, some things during pregnancy might possibly play a role. Like what the mom eats or if she’s exposed to certain toxins. But I would say, scientists are still trying to figure out how big of a role these factors really play.

Gestational Influences

Some research suggests that certain factors during pregnancy, such as maternal diet, exposure to toxins, or gestational diabetes, might influence the development of oral structures, including the labial frenulum, but the evidence is not conclusive.

Hormonal Factors

Hormones during pregnancy might also play a role in the development of the mouth and related structures in the fetus, potentially influencing the formation of a lip tie, though this area requires more research for definitive conclusions.

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS)

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome consists of a range of disorders affecting the supportive connective tissues found in the skin, bones, blood vessels, and numerous other body organs and tissues.

 It’s known for its symptoms of highly flexible joints, skin that stretches and bruises easily, and blood vessels that may be prone to rupture.

EDS arises from genetic alterations affecting the formation, synthesis, and modification of collagen and other vital proteins that underpin connective tissues.

The severity of symptoms can vary widely, from minor to critical, and while there is no known cure, therapeutic interventions can aid in controlling symptoms and averting further health issues. Infantile Hypertrophic Pyloric Stenosis (IHPS).

 Infantile Hypertrophic Pyloric Stenosis (IHPS)

IHPS is a condition affecting newborns where the muscle at the end of the stomach, the pylorus, grows too large and obstructs food from entering the small intestine.

It usually becomes apparent a few weeks after birth, with symptoms including projectile vomiting, dehydration, and weight loss.

The exact cause is not known, but it’s believed to involve a combination of genetic, hormonal, and environmental factors.

Treatment often involves a surgical procedure called pyloromyotomy to split the overgrown muscle, allowing food to pass through.

Ellis-van Creveld Syndrome

Ellis-van Creveld Syndrome represents an uncommon genetic condition marked by dwarfism, polydactylism (additional fingers or toes), atypical nail growth, and inborn cardiac anomalies.

It also correlates with unique facial traits and dental irregularities. The syndrome is caused by mutations in the EVC or EVC2 genes, which are important for the development of limbs and other structures. 

This condition is passed down through an autosomal recessive inheritance, indicating that for a child to be affected, they must receive a mutated gene from both parents.

Therapeutic efforts are centered on symptom management and can encompass surgical procedures to address cardiac irregularities or dental issues.

Holoprosencephaly (HPE)

Holoprosencephaly is a birth defect in brain formation marked by the forebrain’s inability to split into dual hemispheres and ventricles, resulting in abnormalities in facial development and brain structure and functionality.

The severity of HPE can vary widely, from mild (with minor facial anomalies) to severe (involving significant brain malformations and facial defects).

HPE may result from genetic mutations, environmental influences, or both. Therapy is aimed at alleviating symptoms and providing support, with an emphasis on controlling complications and enhancing life quality.

Oro-facial-digital Syndrome (OFDS)

Oro-facial-digital Syndrome is a term for a group of at least 13 genetically distinct disorders that share common features: abnormalities of the mouth (cleft palate, tongue lobulation), face (broad nasal bridge, wide-set eyes), and digits (extra fingers or toes, syndactyly where two or more fingers/toes are fused).

OFDS can impact the growth of the brain, lungs, and heart. The diverse forms of OFDS stem from mutations in distinct genes and are passed down either through X-linked or autosomal recessive genetic patterns.

Management focuses on addressing the specific symptoms present in the individual and may involve multiple specialties, including dentistry, orthopedics, and neurology. 

Lip Tie vs Normal Pictures

Lip Tie vs Normal Pictures

Symptoms Of Lip Tie Problems Later In Life

Untreated lip tie can lead to dental problems in adulthood. Including gaps between front teeth, according to research. These are the symptoms of lip tie:

  • Difficulty biting and chewing food
  • Pain and discomfort when eating
  • Speech impairment or difficulty pronouncing certain words
  • Crowded or crooked teeth
  • Gum recession or periodontal disease
  • Difficulty maintaining oral hygiene
  • Sleep apnea or snoring.

Potential Problems Associated With Lip Tie

Lip tie can cause several problems according to scientific research.

tongue showing a visible tongue tie & upper lip showing a visible lip tie.

Untreated lip tie increases the risk of speech disorders in children, according to a study published in the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology. This is due to difficulties with articulation and sound production.

Moreover, the study also found that Children with lip tie are more likely to have speech sound disorders, including distortions of /s/ and /z/. Untreated lip tie increases the likelihood of feeding difficulties in children, according to a study in the Journal of Clinical Pediatrics.

Furthermore, the researchers discovered that children with lip tie had poor weight gain, frequent feedings, and shorter feeding durations. And the baby can’t get pacifier which is essential for baby at early life.

Effects Of Tongue And Lip-Ties Beyond Breastfeeding

Tongue and lip ties can have effects beyond breastfeeding, impacting various aspects of an individual’s health.

These effects may include speech difficulties, oral health issues like dental decay and misalignment, digestive problems such as reflux, oral sensory concerns affecting taste and texture perception.

Sleep disorders like snoring and mouth breathing, as well as potential social and emotional impact.

The severity of these effects can vary, and consulting with healthcare professionals experienced in assessing and treating tongue and lip ties is important for proper evaluation and management.

Risk Involved When Lip Tie Is Untreated

Untreated lip tie can increase the risk of diastemas, according to a study in the Journal of Indian Society of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry. Or gaps between the front teeth.

Additionally, untreated lip tie can cause various complications. It can lead to pressure on the front teeth, pushing them apart and affecting dental health.

Moreover, It may also result in chronic pain or discomfort in the upper lip area due to restricted movement and tension. Lip tie can contribute to mouth breathing, causing issues like dry mouth, bad breath, and an increased risk of respiratory infections.

Furthermore, studies show that it can also increase the likelihood of snoring, restless sleep, and sleep apnea in children. The exact reasons behind these effects are not fully understood.

Untreated Lip Tie May Lead To These Problems As Well

  • Untreated lip tie can hinder breastfeeding due to latching and suction issues.
  • Untreated lip tie in infants can cause weight loss, dehydration, and other feeding issues affecting their health and development.
  • Untreated lip tie can impair speech due to restricted upper lip and tongue movement.
  • Untreated lip tie raises the risk of dental problems like tooth decay and misalignment, necessitating extensive future treatment.
  • Untreated lip tie can cause social and emotional challenges due to communication difficulties and self-consciousness.
  • Early treatment for lip tie can prevent complications and support healthy development in infants and children.

Recognizing The Symptoms Of Lip Tie Problems Later in Life: From Infancy To Adulthood

A tight or short frenulum causes lip tie, a medical condition that affects the connection between the upper lip and gum line. While some cases may be mild and go unnoticed.

Additionally, others can cause a range of symptoms and complications. One of the most common symptoms of lip tie is difficulty. with breastfeeding, as the infant may have trouble latching onto the breast.

Moreover, swallowing air during feeding due to lip tie can cause symptoms like colic and reflux.

Furthermore, leading to frustration for both the mother and child. The tight lip attachment from lip tie can interfere with the proper formation of sounds, Leading to speech difficulties as the child grows older.

These issues can persist into adulthood and cause significant oral health problems.

See also: How To Stop Mouth Breathing In Child

Solution To Get Rid Of Lip Tie  

Treatment for lip tie typically involves a surgical procedure known as frenectomy.  The procedure involves cutting the small piece of tissue connecting the upper lip to the gums. Allowing for more freedom of movement.

The procedure is generally quick and safe, With minimal risks and complications.

A person demonstrating improved lip movement and flexibility after receiving treatment for a lip tie.

Is It Necessary To Treat Lip Tie Problems

It is generally recommended that lip tie problems be treated in order to avoid these potential issues. Lip tie can cause difficulty in breastfeeding. As infants may struggle to latch properly and have inadequate milk intake.

Leading to poor weight gain and long-term consequences for growth and development. Lip tie can lead to breastfeeding, dental, speech, and sleep problems, as well as tooth decay and gaps in front teeth. Due to improper oral hygiene.

Moreover, they will also struggle with certain speech sounds, such as “s” and “z,”. And may experience disrupted sleep due to breathing difficulties.

Additionally, treating lip tie problems can prevent potential negative effects on breastfeeding, dental health, speech development, and sleep apnea. Early diagnosis and treatment can ensure a child’s long-term health and well-being.

Related: Lip Tie In Babies

The Effects Of Tongue And Lip-Ties Beyond Breastfeeding, Mother’s Perspective

Tongue and lip-ties are common conditions that affect newborns and infants, causing difficulty in breastfeeding. However, their effects go beyond just nursing, as mothers have reported other potential issues.

In addition to the physical effects on the infant. Mothers of infants with tongue and lip-ties report symptoms like pain, latch difficulty, and decreased milk supply, along with choking, drooling, and sleep trouble.

Moreover, mothers of infants with tongue and lip-ties commonly report emotional distress, including guilt, frustration, and exhaustion, due to breastfeeding difficulties.

While tongue and lip-ties are often diagnosed and treated during infancy, the effects may persist beyond the breastfeeding stage.

For example, children with untreated tongue and lip-ties may experience speech difficulties, dental problems, and even sleep apnea later in life.

Tips For Feeding a Baby With Lip Tie

Feeding a baby with a lip tie, can present unique challenges. To ensure successful feeding, it’s advisable to experiment with different positions to find the most comfortable one for both the baby and the caregiver.

A position that allows the baby to latch deeply can be particularly effective. Additionally, using a wide latch technique, where the baby’s mouth covers as much of the areola as possible, can help in achieving a better grip.

For bottle-fed babies, opting for a nipple that resembles the natural shape of a breast may aid in reducing feeding difficulties. Regular check-ups with a pediatrician or a lactation consultant are essential to monitor the baby’s growth and to address any feeding issues promptly.

These professionals can provide personalized advice and support, tailored to the specific needs of a baby with a lip tie.

Related post: 18 Month Old Not Talking

FAQS About Lip Tie Problems Later In Life

Q: How common are lip tie problems?

A The prevalence of lip tie is not well-established, but some estimates suggest that it may occur in up to 10% of newborns. It is more commonly seen in boys.

Q: What is sleep-disordered breathing and how is it related to lip tie?

A: Sleep-disordered breathing refers to conditions such as snoring, restless sleep, and sleep apnea. Some studies suggest that untreated lip tie may be associated with an increased risk of sleep-disordered breathing, particularly in children.

Q: Can lip tie problems be recovered?

A: It is not entirely clear what causes lip tie, so there is no surefire way to prevent it. However, some healthcare professionals recommend frequent breastfeeding and/or the use of specialized bottles and nipples to reduce the risk of developing lip tie.

Q: How can lip tie be diagnosed?

A: Diagnosis of lip tie typically involves a physical examination by a healthcare professional, who will evaluate the appearance and function of the upper lip and gum line. You can confirm the diagnosis by imaging and testing as well.

Conclusion of lip tie problems later in life

A lip tie refers to a situation in which the upper lip is firmly connected to the gum line, which has the potential to create problems in the future.

In addition, it can arise from genetic factors or complications during fetal development. While it might not have immediate effects in infants, it can pose challenges as they grow, impacting breastfeeding, speech, dental health, and overall quality of life.

Fortunately, there are remedies available, including frenectomy, speech therapy, orthodontic measures, and proper oral care, to manage lip tie.

Moreover, timely recognition and action are essential in mitigating its enduring effects.

Furthermore, neglecting lip tie concerns can result in dental problems, speech impediments, and other difficulties. Seeking treatment is essential to avert these potential issues and ensure a healthier and more fulfilling life.

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