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Tongue-tie

overview

Tongue-tie is where the skin joining a baby's tongue to the bottom of their mouth is shorter than usual. It sometimes makes it harder to breastfeed.

Your baby may have tongue-tie if they find it hard to breastfeed. They may struggle to attach to your breast and might make your nipples sore.

Tongue-tie does not always need to be treated. If it stops your baby breastfeeding, a simple procedure can be done to cut the skin under their tongue.

Read more on the NHS website.

Your baby may have tongue-tie if they find it hard to breastfeed. They may struggle to attach to your breast and might make your nipples sore.

Signs of tongue-tie

To breastfeed successfully, a baby needs to latch on to both the breast tissue and nipple, and their tongue needs to cover the lower gum so the nipple is protected from damage.

Some babies with tongue-tie are not able to open their mouths wide enough to latch on to the breast properly.

If you're breastfeeding your baby and they have tongue-tie they may:

Tongue-tie can also sometimes cause problems for a breastfeeding mother. Problems can include:

Most breastfeeding problems, however, are not caused by tongue-tie and can be overcome with the right support.

If you're finding breastfeeding difficult, ask a midwife, health visitor or a breastfeeding specialist for help.

Read more on the NHS website.

Tongue-tie does not always need to be treated. If it stops your baby breastfeeding, a simple procedure can be done to cut the skin under their tongue.

Medical treatments

Treatment is not always needed, if your baby has tongue-tie but can feed without any problems. If their feeding is affected, treatment involves a simple procedure called tongue-tie division.

Tongue-tie division

Tongue-tie division involves cutting the short, tight piece of skin connecting the underside of the tongue to the bottom of the mouth.

It's a quick, simple and almost painless procedure that usually improves feeding straight away.

The procedure

Tongue-tie division is done by doctors, nurses or midwives.

In very young babies (those who are only a few months old), it is usually done without anaesthetic (painkilling medicine), or with a local anaesthetic that numbs the tongue.

The procedure does not seem to hurt babies. This is because there are very few nerve endings in the area around the bottom of the mouth. Some babies sleep through the procedure, while others may cry a bit.

general anaesthetic is usually needed for older babies with teeth, which means they'll be unconscious throughout the procedure.

The baby's head is held securely while sharp, sterile scissors with blunt ends are used to cut the skin.

It only takes a few seconds, and you can start feeding your baby immediately afterwards.

There should not be much bleeding. Your baby may get a white patch (ulcer) under their tongue, but this should heal in 1 to 2 days. It will not bother your baby.

Research suggests most babies who have treatment for tongue-tie find breastfeeding easier afterwards.

The Association of Tongue-tie Practitioners (ATP) can help you find a tongue-tie practitioner.

Read more on the NHS website.