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Smiling mother with her happy little daughter.

Having some frenum lip attachment is typical. However, some inherited conditions can induce a lip-tie with atypical lip attachments, like a tight labial frenulum. If a lip-tie is present from birth and continues into adulthood, it can cause various issues, including receding gums, a gap between the two front teeth and crooked or misaligned teeth; the similar condition known as tongue-tie shares many of these signs and symptoms.

Lip- and Tongue-Tie Diagnosis After Infancy

Just like a tongue-tie, a lip-tie is commonly identified in infancy. The child will have problems moving their lips because the attachment is too tight and short. Many pediatricians will have the mother breastfeed their child while they observe for any issues with the baby’s latching or sucking, which are sure signs of a lip- or tongue-tie problem. Even if a lip- or tongue-tie is not detected at this stage, a dentist can detect it later during a routine dental exam.

Lip- and Tongue-Tie Complications in Older Children and Adults

Many adults suffer from tongue ties without realizing it. The complications associated with untreated tongue ties begin in infancy but persist through adolescence and adulthood. Older individuals with untreated lip-or tongue-tie may exhibit symptoms including:

Speech Problems
This complication pertains primarily to a tongue-tie. The tongue’s movement and placement are vital for correct sound production. It might be impossible to make certain noises if the tongue is held down due to a short frenum. Thus, tongue-tie release has helped many people struggling in speech therapy for years with no progress.
Chronic Head and Neck Pain and TMJ
Nothing in the body is solitary, tongue included. Restricting the tongue can throw off the balance of several head and neck muscles. As a result, adult tongue-ties can cause persistent TMJ, head and neck tension, headaches, migraines, sleep apnea, snoring and unreliable chiropractic adjustments. Thus, releasing the tie allows the body to relax into a posture impossible with a tie, relieving years of strain and discomfort.
Crowded Teeth and Overbite
Tongue-ties and crowded adult teeth are linked. When mobile, the tongue rests on the mouth roof. The mouth expands laterally to accommodate all adult teeth. If the tongue cannot do this, primary teeth will be crowded, meaning adult teeth will be, too.
In addition to shaping the maxilla laterally, the tongue also expands the face forward. Kids with tied tongues commonly have overbite mandibles. This has aesthetic and health implications. When the mandible recedes, the tongue moves farther back into the mouth. The tongue might block the airway when this happens.
People hold their head forward when their airway is compromised. This temporarily expands their airway and facilitates breathing. However, this alters body alignment: long-term forward head posture strains the neck, back and torso muscles, causing persistent pain.

Can You Fix a Lip- or Tongue-Tie in Older Children and Adults?

Fortunately, lip- and tongue-tie release surgery can be performed at any age. Benefits can be life-altering for some people and are well worth the effort. The South Carolina Tongue Tie Center in Charleston can answer tongue- and lip-tie questions. Please call us for further inquiries or to schedule an appointment.

Posted on behalf of South Carolina Tongue Tie Center

538 Savannah Hwy
Charleston, SC 29407

Phone: 843-654-0459


Monday - Thursday: 8am - 5pm
Friday: 8am - 2pm

Our Patient Reviews

South Carolina Tongue Tie Center

4.7 / 5.0

Based on 5 reviews

  • Talia H.

    Great experience with my visit to Dr. McPhearson and Carrie, hygienist. Dr. McPhearson is so patient, kind, and a perfectionist. She cares deeply that you have a great dental visit every time.

  • Maham A.

    I saw Dr. Caitlin McPherson and she is absolutely amazing. Not only does she make sure that everything is beautiful and functional, but she also treats every patient and their concerns with the utmost kindness.

  • Frankie W.

    Dr. McPherson is absolutely the best I highly recommend her and her team for all of your dental needs.

  • Phillip R.

    Everyone is so nice and they all seem to have good comradery. Mallory, Taylor, and Dr. Caitlin McPherson definitely know what they're doing!

  • Kyle A.

    The staff is always friendly & Dr McPherson does a great job every time!

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