What is “tongue-tie”?

Tongue-tie is referring to the band of tissue that connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth. If tongue-tie is being discussed in relation to infant feeding, it is likely that the tissue is suspected to be limiting the movement of the tongue and causing breastfeeding/chestfeeding problems.

Sometimes a tongue-tie looks like a very obvious string-like tissue under the tongue. Usually, these are simple to identify the PRESENCE of the tissue, however, it takes a skilled practitioner to identify if the tongue-tie is affecting the FUNCTION of the tongue. Some infants may have a very obvious tongue-tie, but have no problem with function and can breastfeed effectively. Other infants may not have a very prominent tie (one that can easily be missed by doctors, nurses, other practitioners who are not specially trained), however the function of the tongue can be greatly affected and can cause significant feeding problems.

My baby has a tongue-tie, but they can stick their tongue out. Does that mean it’s okay?

Practitioners skilled in tongue-tie will talk about the APPEARANCE versus FUNCTION of a tongue-tie. A functional tongue needs many different movements: stick out, tip lifts up, middle lifts up, edges curl, side to side motion, etc.. A problem with any one of these functions can cause feeding problems. If it is suggested that the tongue is fully functional because it can stick out, but you are still having breastfeeding problems, you may want to consider a second opinion.

Why am I getting mixed information about whether my baby has a tongue-tie?

The simple version is that there is no universally agreed upon diagnostic criteria for tongue-tie. It remains a controversial and complex issue in the infant feeding world. Go back to APPEARANCE versus FUNCTION. If you are having persistent feeding problems that don’t seem to be improving, the function of the tongue should be fully assessed, even if you have been told "it looks okay."

Where do I go for assessment and/or treatment of my baby’s tongue-tie?

Physicans can release tongue ties using the scissor technique, and services are covered under Alberta Health Care. If not specialized in infant feeding, some physicians may not be familiar with doing a comprehensive functional assessment of the mouth and tongue as it relates to breastfeeding. Your own physician may provide this service.

Physician/NPLactation Support Available?Other
Willow Family MedicineIBCLC support includedCovered by Alberta Health Care
Referral required
Synergy Breastfeeding ClinicIBCLC/Nurse Practitioner lactation support$175 (may be reimbursed by benefits)
Sherwood Park
Well Fed Clinic - CalgaryLactation support includedCovered by Alberta Health Care
Self-referral
Circle Medical - CalgaryLactation support includedCovered by Alberta Health Care
Self-referral
Westgrove Clinic - Spruce GroveNoCovered by Alberta Health Care
Self-referral
Dr. WongNoCall for appointment: 780-489-3339
Dr. ShmoorkoffNoCall for appointment: 587-462-4449

Dentists use a specialized laser to perform lip and tongue tie releases. Dentists are a paid service that may be covered by private benefit plans. No referral required.

DentistLocation in EdmontonOther
District DentalDowntown with complementary parkingIn-house lactation support (depending on appt date/time) to assist with assessment and latch
CO2 Laser
Comprehensive instructions for post-procedure care
Same day consult & procedure available
Dr. VarugheseCentral/ northwest
Dr. CrichtonCentral/ northwest
Dr. HeitSouthwest (Roper Rd)Online booking
Dr. BoldtSummerside
Dr. EvansonDowntownOnline booking
Dr. NgCastledowns

Bodywork refers to practitioners who can assess and treat muscular and other body tensions and imbalances that may be playing a role in the ability to effectively latch at the breast. They can be used alone to improve latch, or in combination with a tongue tie release in a before & after care plan.

Practitioner/Business Area of Edmonton
LiveWell Family ChiropracticChiropracticWest/ Meadowlark
Capilano ChiropracticChiropracticSoutheast/ Capilano
Sublime HealthChiropracticSt. Albert
Thrive Chiropractic & WellnessChiropractic
Craniosacral Therapy
Southwest/ Windermere
Angela DechaineBiodynamic Craniosacral TherapyWindermere (Thrive) or Wetaskiwin
Danielle RadkeCraniosacral TherapyStony Plain, Alberta
Illuminate WellnessCraniosacral TherapyEast Edmonton & Sherwood Park
Orofacial Myology EdmontonOrofacial MyologyWest-Central Edmonton