Short tongue frenelum: to cut or not to cut

Postnatal, Your questions

Hello Parents,

Have you heard about newborns who are born with a short frenulum of the tongue (a band of tissue under the tongue), and they can’t stick out their tongue beyond their bottom lip? Alternatively, a very tight lip (or labial) frenulum? This situation isn’t dramatic, but it can cause discomfort.


In this article:


Given the baby has restricted tongue mobility, it’s difficult to ensure proper latching of the mother’s nipple, which often causes lesions and pain. With a short frenulum of the tongue, the baby must make sustained efforts to hold the nipple and get enough milk by sucking. This can sometimes explain why they tire quickly, they stop sucking. A labial frenulum also hinders the baby from sealing the areola by opening their mouth wide. As a consequence, they will swallow a lot of air, which will lead to gas, reflux and even colic. Over the long-term, this situation can lead to problems for the milk production and weight gain in the newborn, thus the necessity of managing their weight.

Photo - frein de langue trop court chez un nouveau‑né
Source : Site web de Dr. Kotlow : http://www.kiddsteeth.com/

In the medical field, a short frenulum called “ankyloglossia.” We consider this condition as a common birth defect (present at birth). According to the Canadian Paediatric Society, no consensus currently exists for criteria to diagnose. However, according to available studies, between 4 and 10% of newborns, and twice the number of boys compared to girls, are afflicted by this. This specific condition seems to have no negative impacts on 2/3 of babies. Additionally, genetic and family predispositions can be found during examinations.

How do you know if you have to cut the band under the tongue or not (frenectomy or frenotomy)?

Each case is different and requires a full examination associated with the potential consequences before suggesting the procedure. At the outset, we have to see if we can first work the breastfeeding position to facilitate latching the breast and increase the baby’s feeding time. However, if this doesn’t work, professional associations support a frenectomy (cutting of the frenulum of the tongue) in cases where it’s seen as required. This procedure seems to improve the baby’s tongue movements and better feeding significantly. Some in the field add that it will prevent speech problems in the development of the child over the medium term, speaking with a lisp. Finally, you can’t forget the prevention of possible long-term complications: the growth of the upper and lower maxillaries, the upper respiratory tracts, adequate expansion of the palate, dental positioning and occlusion and the appearance of sleep apnea.

To learn more about this, go to the following article Possible Procedures to Cut the Frenulum.

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