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  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:





Tongue-tie is when the tongue cannot move normally because it is attached to the floor of the mouth. This causes problems eating and speaking. Tongue-tie is present at birth. It can be corrected.


A tissue called the frenulum helps the mouth to develop before and shortly after birth. The frenulum is attached to the underside of the tongue. After birth, the frenulum should start to shrink and loosen its hold on the tongue.

In some babies, the frenulum does not shrink as it should. The cause is not known. Genetics may play a role.

Risk Factors

Tongue-tie is more common in boys. Other things that may raise the risk of tongue-tie are:

  • Other family members had tongue-tie
  • Cocaine abuse in the baby's mother


Symptoms of tongue-tie vary from person to person. Some will not have symptoms.

Symptoms in babies may be:

  • Problems latching onto the nipple during breastfeeding
  • Breastfeeding for a long time
  • Frequent hunger
  • Problems gaining weight

In young children tongue tie may cause problems eating or speaking correctly.

Adults with tongue-tie may have speech problems, problems kissing, and jaw pain.

Muscles and Nerves of the Tongue.

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The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the tongue. This is enough to make the diagnosis.


Some babies may not need treatment. The frenulum may loosen on its own with time.

A lactation consultant may be able to help babies who are having trouble feeding. This is a person who can assess the baby's feeding and teach other feeding methods.

Surgery may be needed if a baby continues to have problems feeding and gaining weight. Surgery may involve:

  • Snipping the frenulum—to release the tongue so it can move normally
  • Repairing a frenulum that is too thick and short


There are no current guidelines to prevent tongue-tie.





  • Ankyloglossia (tongue-tie). American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at: https://www.enthealth.org/conditions/ankyloglossia-tongue-tie.
  • Ankyloglossia (Tongue-tie). Children's Hospital of Philadelphia website. Available at: http://www.chop.edu/conditions-diseases/ankyloglossia-tongue-tie.
  • Costa-Romero M, Espínola-Docio B, Paricio-Talayero JM, Díaz-Gómez NM. Ankyloglossia in breastfeeding infants. An update. Arch Argent Pediatr. 2021;119(6):e600-e609.
  • Neonatal ankyloglossia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/neonatal-ankyloglossia-20.
  • 4/24/2017 DynaMed Systematic Literature Review https://www.dynamed.com/condition/neonatal-ankyloglossia-20: O'Shea JE, Foster JP, ODonnell CP, et al. Frenotomy for tongue-tie in newborn infants. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017;3:CD011065.


  • April Scott, NP
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.