Content is loading...

Hide this page Easy read and translate

Tongue tie

  • 0-1 Years
  • 1-5 Years
  • 5-11 Years
  • SEND
  • Parents and Carers
  • Speech, language and communication
Young child sticking their tongue out with a cheeky smile

Tongue tie is when the tongue is restricted. This is caused by the fold under your tongue (also known as the frenulum) being too tight or short. It can also cause the tip of the tongue to look blunt, forked or have a heart shape in appearance.

Explore the topics on this page:

Impact on infants

Impact on speech

Treating tongue tie

Impact on infants

Tongue tie can make it harder for your baby to breastfeed by preventing them from latching properly. This can lead to sore or cracked nipples. 

Signs of tongue tie in infants includes:

  • your baby’s tongue not lifting, sticking out or moving from side to side
  • tongue has a heart shaped appearance
  • difficulty breastfeeding or bottle feeding
  • refusing to feed
  • frequent, long feeds but your baby is not satisfied or settled
  • a clicking sound when feeding

When to seek advice

Tongue tie is not always spotted at birth. The first sign of an issue is during breastfeeding when the baby has difficult attaching to the nipple. 

If you are having difficulties breastfeeding or concerned about tongue tie, speak to your GP, health visitor or lactation consultant. They will be able to check for tongue tie.  

Impact on speech

A person with tongue-tie may not be able to:

    • stick their tongue out beyond their lower teeth
    • get their tongue to reach the top of their mouth
    • clear food from inside or outside their mouth

Tongue tie does not usually affect speech. You can have tongue tie and have normal sounding speech. However, some children may find certain sounds like ‘l’ more difficult and some may find their speech is unclear when talking quickly.

There is no evidence that tongue tie is related to delayed speech and language skills.

Treating tongue tie

A tongue tie can be released (cut) from birth by a surgeon specialising in mouth and jaw problems. However, the surgeon needs to be sure that the tongue tie is causing problems. Poor latching whilst breastfeeding, for example, can be due to other factors such as positioning. You should first seek advice from a breastfeeding consultant or health visitor.

An older child with speech difficulties will require assessment by a speech and language therapist before being referred for this treatment. A dentist may be the first person to identify a tongue tie and can also refer for surgery. Tongue strengthening exercises may be needed after surgery.

Very young babies can have the tongue tie cut without anaesthetic. This is a quick and painless procedure, which is over in seconds. Older babies and children will need a short general anaesthetic, which is not usually advisable until the child is at least two years old. Occasionally, if the frenum is very thin and elastic, it will break and stretch by itself.

Last reviewed: 1 November, 2023


Who can help

If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s speech and language you may want to discuss this with:

  • your health visitor, if your child is under 5 years old
  • the staff at your child’s school, if your child is in school
  • a professional, if your child is homeschooled visit the Speech and Language Therapy service page

You can Call Us on 0300 029 50 50 or Text Us on 07520 649887 to start a conversation.

Open Monday to Friday 9.00am to 5.00pm (excluding bank holidays).

Was this page helpful?

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

You must log in to save content

Click below to log in or create a new account


You must log in to save content

Click below to log in or create a new account