Children and Adult Tongue & Lip Ties

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Children and Adult Tongue Ties & Lip Ties

Children and adults can have tongue ties and lip ties that affect function or anatomy. Regarding function, tongue ties can affect speech, swallow and eating. Regarding anatomy, tongue ties or lip ties can affect recession or contribute to space between teeth. Symptoms are listed below.

Older children and adults with tongue ties or lip ties symptoms may include:

  • difficulty with speech
  • difficulty or limitations with eating, or difficulty licking an ice cream cone
  • narrow dental arches, crowded teeth due to limited dental growth
  • high arched palate (roof of mouth)
  • myofunctional impairments such as poor swallow patterns, open mouth breathing
  • gum tissue recession
  • space between teeth (diastema)

Some older children and adults who have compensated for years may not realize they have had a lip tie or tongue tie. If there are functional or developmental concerns, your dentist might suggest a frenectomy or frenuloplasty procedure. This may help to restore function and improve range of motion or improve anatomy. Examples of lip ties and tongue ties in children and adults are shown in the photos below.

Lip Tie Child Laser Dentist Iowa Dr. Kristen Berning
Upper lip tie

Upper Lip Tie Space Between Teeth Laser Dentist Lip Tie
Upper lip tie

Tongue Tie Kids Laser Dentist Iowa Wisconsin
Tongue tie

Child tongue tie laser revision dentist Iowa
Tongue tie

Adult Tongue Tie release laser sutures frenuloplasty Zaghi Iowa dentist
Tongue tie

How are tongue ties and lip ties treated in older children and adults?

After a complete exam and consultation, Dr. Kristen Berning can discuss which procedure is best indicated on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes a laser is recommended, sometimes a scissors technique is recommended, or a combination approach. The procedure is well tolerated by children and adults. Topical anesthesia and local anesthetic are both used to numb the tissue. A frenectomy or frenuloplasty is performed to release the tight frenum attachment. Recovery is a few days, soreness may persist 1-2 weeks, and healing is complete after a few weeks.

What is a frenectomy/ frenotomy?

A frenectomy or frenotomy is a procedure used to correct a frenum that is too tight, causing limited function. A scissors or a laser is used to release the restrictive tissue attachment. The procedure can be done by a medical professional such as a dentist or physician who has specialized training in the technique. 

What is a frenuloplasty?

A frenuloplasty is a procedure that corrects a tongue-tie in which sutures are used after the release to realign the tissue borders for healing. Dr. Kristen Berning has completed a functional frenuloplasty course with Dr. Soroush Zaghi of The Breathe Institute, and Dr. Berning is a TBI Ambassodor. Dr. Zaghi is an ENT physician who has published research on the benefits of functional frenuloplasty for improved function, breathing, and wellness.

What are the risks and complications?

A smooth recovery is expected, however, there are always associated risks that cannot be eliminated and may occur in a minority of cases. A consent form will be provided to parents and patients and can be discussed with Dr. Berning before the procedure.

Dr Kristen Berning Dr Bobby Ghaheri Laser Tongue Ties
Dr. Bobby Ghaheri &
Dr. Kristen Berning


Dr Soroush Zaghi Dr Kristen Berning Tongue Tie
Dr. Soroush Zaghi &
Dr. Kristen Berning


What is aftercare?

To help assure the best possible healing result, Dr. Kristen Berning will provide specific aftercare instructions. Aftercare helps to guide tissue healing and also tongue retraining to improve function. For an older child or adult, it is recommended to continue care with a myofunctional or speech language pathologist (SLP) who is familiar with tongue ties and frenectomies. Many times bodywork or other therapy (occupational therapy, physical therapy, chiropractic, cranial sacral therapy, massage) is recommended to address other functional compensations.

Where did Dr. Kristen Berning get her training for tongue ties and lip ties? 

Dr. Berning has attended tongue tie courses by Dr. Larry Kotlow (pediatric dentist), Dr. Bobby Ghaheri (ENT physician), and Dr. Soroush Zaghi (ENT physician). She has also received training from Dr. Fred Margolis (pediatric dentist) and Dr. Alison Hazelbaker, PhD, IBCLC.

Please contact our Dubuque laser dentist today by calling 563-556-2711 or complete the form on this page to schedule your tongue tie consultation. Exceptional Dentistry serves Iowa communities such as Dyersville and Davenport, as well as visitors from southwest Wisconsin and northwest Illinois.