Nursing moms often share stories of babies slipping or struggling to latch onto the breast. It might signal a need for more breastfeeding practice or point to a tongue tie in the infant. Thankfully, modern medicine offers a solution through tongue-tie surgery.

A tongue-tie, also known as ankyloglossia, occurs when the tissue connecting the tongue to the mouth’s floor is too short or thick. It restricts tongue movement, affecting breastfeeding and potentially speech development.

Babies are born with tongue-tie due to conditions in the womb, and its exact cause remains uncertain within the medical community. This condition is relatively rare, appearing in about 4% to 8% of infants, and is more prevalent in boys. It often has a familial tendency.

How Can I Find Out If My Baby Has Tongue Tie?

Parents typically become aware of tongue tie when their baby encounters breastfeeding difficulties. It might manifest as inadequate latching, frequent dribbling, or difficulty attaching to the breast. Additionally, babies with tongue-tie might not exhibit the expected growth rate.

Is Tongue-Tie Surgery Necessary?

Is Tongue-Tie Surgery Necessary

Traditionally, healthcare professionals recommended early tongue-tie surgery shortly after diagnosing it in newborns, mainly due to the belief that it could alleviate breastfeeding difficulties. There was a remarkable surge of tenfold in tongue-tie surgeries between 1997 and 2012, as indicated by a reliable source.

Only in recent years has research begun to critically assess this surgical intervention’s actual benefits. Many lactation consultants and healthcare providers now lean towards exploring alternative therapeutic approaches rather than immediately suggesting surgery.

A comprehensive 2019 study, which focused on 115 newborns with tongue-tie, discovered that 63 percent of infants didn’t require tongue-tie surgery to enhance their breastfeeding experience. Instead, a thorough evaluation by a pediatric speech and language pathologist (SLP) often revealed that the feeding challenges stemmed from other issues, such as infant reflux, inadequate latching, or low milk supply.

Parents collaborating with the SLP to address these specific difficulties frequently resulted in improved breastfeeding without the need for surgery. Conversely, there is evidence indicating the potential benefits of tongue-tie surgeries.

A clinical study conducted in 2019 examined 345 newborns encountering breastfeeding problems, out of which 116 were diagnosed with tongue-tie. Generally, babies with tongue-tie faced more pronounced breastfeeding challenges than those without.

Among the group of babies with tongue-tie, 30 underwent surgery. According to researchers, the babies who underwent the procedure exhibited notably greater breastfeeding improvement compared to their untreated tongue-tie counterparts.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that the decision regarding tongue-tie surgery requires careful consideration of individual circumstances and expert evaluation.

Pros & Cons of Tongue-Tie Surgery



Potential to enhance breastfeeding problem resolution Potential lack of improvement in addressing breastfeeding problems
Potential for improved feeding and quicker weight gain in babies post-surgery Risk of infection and swelling
Ability to alleviate nipple pain for nursing parents Eventual possibility of being unnecessary
Potential to avert future dental issues A necessity for daily post-procedure exercises and stretching to prevent the recurrence of the condition
Possibility to avoid speech problems later in life

What Are the Various Types of Tongue-Tie Surgery

Tongue-tie surgery is no longer one-size-fits-all. Different types of surgeries exist. Fortunately, because the frenulum lacks nerves and blood arteries, surgery is typically not highly painful or prone to bleeding. You will receive help from our medical team in deciding which operation is best for your infant.


This conventional procedure entails gently snipping or cutting the frenulum using a small scalpel, effectively freeing the tongue. Most infants do not require numbing agents (anesthesia) and can resume feeding shortly after the surgery. Recovery usually spans a few days.

Tongue-Tie Laser Surgery

Laser surgery for tongue-tie closely resembles frenotomy, but a laser is employed instead of a scalpel or knife. Utilizing a laser facilitates precise and smaller incisions, minimizing bleeding and expediting the healing process.

Tongue-Tie Electrocautery

Electrocautery surgery employs controlled electric heating to make incisions. Similar to frenotomy, this technique releases the tongue using electricity instead of a scalpel. The approach is designed to lessen bleeding and accelerate the healing process.


Reserved for complex tongue-tie cases, this surgical option involves cutting and reattaching the frenulum using sutures. Due to the procedure’s extended duration, babies are put to sleep (under anesthesia). In certain instances, tongue exercises and speech therapy might be necessary later to ensure complete recovery.

Are There Any Side Effects of Tongue-Tie Surgery?

In rare and intricate situations, your baby might experience an extended recovery period following tongue-tie surgery. Additionally, the procedure could potentially result in complications and side effects such as:


Tongue-tie is a minor condition that a fraction of newborns are born with. While it might be inconsequential for some, others might encounter breastfeeding difficulties. In the long run, tongue-tie could lead to issues like speech impediments or alterations in mouth structure.

Tongue-tie surgery, a relatively straightforward procedure, can aid certain infants in their breastfeeding journey. Recent research, however, reveals that surgery might not be necessary for select cases to enhance breastfeeding outcomes in babies with tongue-tie. It’s particularly pertinent when parents consult a lactation specialist for assessment and guidance on non-surgical interventions.

The dentists of Valley Ridge Dental offer tailored advice on the most suitable course of action for your child, presenting all available options if surgery is warranted. Schedule your appointment now.


When treatment is advised, a frenotomy emerges as a swift and low-risk solution to rectify tongue-tie. Administered within an office environment, the procedure involves using a laser or sterile scissors to release the frenulum delicately. The recovery process is brief, accompanied by minimal discomfort and negligible blood loss. The procedure entails minimal risks.

A tongue-tie in itself may not directly result in speech issues. However, challenges in coordinating tongue movements can lead to unclear speech, particularly as children begin forming sentences. Struggling with pronouncing the sound ‘l’ is also frequently observed.

Waiting an hour after surgery before consuming any food or drink is recommended. Once you receive the green light to eat, it’s advisable to start with soft and cold options like ice cream, smoothies, pudding, and yogurt. These foods can comfort the treated area and are easy to swallow.