Signs of Tethered Oral Tissues in Teeth (AKA Tongue Ties and Lip Ties)

adult tongue and lip tie

I’ve had the idea for this blog post in my head for awhile. I thought it was about time to explain what I have had medical and dental experts show me and tell me about signs of tethered oral tissues. Knowing what these things look like and why they exist has been…interesting. I instantly can scan a person’s face and get a pretty good idea of what’s going on behind their lips and under their tongues. Bizarre, I know.

First of all, yes, I had braces as a teenager, so even with major interventions, my teeth are still having these issues because of the forces that the tethered oral tissues place on them. So, with the photos above as examples, here’s what I’m talking about:

1) Gap in front teeth- This one is pretty obvious, but I don’t have a picture of it because a) My gap is being held together by bars and b) I broke the upper lip tissue at some point when I was little and it no longer goes down as far as it used to. A gap in the front teeth is not normal. It is possible to remove the extra tissue on the top lip and between the front teeth and to get the teeth to grow together. How do I know? My daughter’s front teeth are perfectly together now.

2) Receding gumlines- I apologize to Periodontists in advance, but oral tethers in the lower lip and cheek will lead to gum recession. Some people even need to have very painful gum surgery to help prevent bad, bad things from happening to their teeth. Those little pieces of tissue pull on the gums, and over time the tissue can recede.

3) Crease above lip when smiling- When someone has a tongue tie and has difficulties swallowing, they have to tongue-thrust to be able to swallow. Want to see a baby have to tongue-thrust to swallow?

Over time, this leads to an overbite. (I think. Is that an overbite that I have?) Anyway, I think that when the teeth get pushed outward over time, when someone who has to tongue-thrust to swallow smiles, their lip slides too far up, and the angle of the teeth causes the lip to crease. That’s my theory anyway.

4) Front teeth being pulled inward- This is something that I see on adults as well as kids; in children, the teeth can be pulled inward quite dramatically. If I had been perfect about wearing a retainer over the last 20 years, maybe my bottom teeth wouldn’t be getting pulled inward, but the force of the tether under my tongue did affect the teeth. I’ve seen people with very tight restrictions under their tongues have very, very crooked front teeth.

There are also things that are very evident with tongues when there is a tongue tie/ tethered oral tissues. However, my tongue is not a good example, so a later post will cover that info.



Disclaimer: This post is for educational purposes only. I am an educator, so this information is from research, discussion with other professionals, and personal observations. This information is not meant to diagnose or treat any conditions. 

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

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