Also known as a maxillary lip tie, an upper lip tie can be painful for babies. Likewise, it can cause functional problems and oral health issues in a child’s mouth if left untreated. Every baby is born with a piece of tissue known as the labial frenulum behind the upper lip. Let’s explore more of what an upper lip tie is and what treatment is best for your little one.


Maxillary Lip Tie

When the labial frenulum membranes are too short (tight), thick, or stiff, an upper lip tie forms. While young children, teens and adults can develop lip ties, it is much more common in babies (about 4-11%). Breastfeeding problems are commonly the cause. As long as your child is experiencing normal weight gain and healthy development, a lip tie does not pose any threat.

Do you want to check to see if your baby has a lip tie? If you notice any of these signs, it is time to seek help and treatment.

  • Labial frenulum is attached into the gum tissue.
  • There is some sort of attachment of the labial frenulum to where the future upper front teeth will be. It may extend to the mouth’s palate.

A severe lip tie could be obvious. Although, it is still important to seek medical advice from your pediatric healthcare provider.

There are four different severities of an upper lip tie. The higher the class, the more severe the lip tie.

  • Class 1 – Mucosal
  • Class 2 – Gingival
  • Class 3 – Papillary
  • Class 4 – Papilla Penetrating

Learn about the difference between a tongue tie and lip tie in our blog.

Signs of an Upper Lip Tie in a Baby

Depending on the severity of the lip tie, your baby can be showing a number of symptoms. A lip tie can create a fussy baby who is experiencing pain and a number of problems.

  • Difficulty latching onto a mother’s nipple or pacifier
  • Gassiness
  • Fatigue (even falling asleep during breastfeeding)
  • Shorter feedings due to discomfort
  • Poor coordination (breathing, sucking, and swallowing)
  • Poor weight gain

Your baby may not be getting his or her proper caloric intake due to any one of these signs. Plus, a mother’s discomfort and frustration can affect breastfeeding and adequate milk supply.

Signs of an Upper Lip Tie in a Toddler

  • Child’s tongue retracts when given a spoon
  • Overuse of lower lip
  • Drooling
  • Unusually messy eating
  • Difficulty eating certain foods (child can seem picky)
  • Gagging or vomiting when food gets stuck on tongue
  • Refusing to sit at the table (secondary behavior)
  • Tooth decay because the tongue is unable to clean the teeth through spreading saliva
  • Open bite
  • Snoring
  • Poor weight gain

Similarly, your young child may not be getting the proper nutrients and caloric intake because of pain and frustration.

Upper Lip Tie Treatment at Nia Pediatric Dentistry

*Important note: Please have a lactation consultant or pediatric dentist confirm that an upper lip tie is the problem before seeking treatment.

A frenectomy (lip-tie reversal) is a simple procedure to fix the problem. After a numbing solution is put on the frenulum, the upper lip tie is snipped using a small, handheld laser.  The entire procedure is just a few minutes.

The most important thing is finding a pediatric dentist who will be empathetic to your baby’s pain. Contact the premier pediatric dental team of Atlanta at Nia Pediatric Dentistry to schedule an appointment. We have offices in Canton and East Cobb.