What causes discomfort or pain in oral frenulae and how to treat it effectively?

Symptom Database

Oral frenulae, also known as frenum, are small folds of tissue that connect the lips, cheeks, and tongue to the gums and underlying bone. There are two main types of oral frenulae: the lingual frenulum, which connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth, and the labial frenulum, which connects the lips to the gums. While these frenulae play important roles in oral anatomy and function, they can sometimes cause discomfort or pain. In this article, we will explore the causes of discomfort or pain in oral frenulae and discuss effective treatment options.

Understanding Oral Frenulae and Their Importance

Before delving into the causes of discomfort or pain in oral frenulae, it is essential to understand their importance in oral health. The lingual frenulum helps control the movement and position of the tongue, allowing for proper speech, swallowing, and chewing. The labial frenulum, on the other hand, helps stabilize the upper and lower lips, ensuring proper lip closure and preventing excessive movement.

Tongue Tie and Lip Tie: Causes of Discomfort or Pain

Tongue tie, medically known as ankyloglossia, occurs when the lingual frenulum is too short or tight, restricting the movement of the tongue. Lip tie, on the other hand, refers to a tight or thick labial frenulum that restricts the movement of the lips. Both conditions can cause discomfort or pain in oral frenulae.

Symptoms of Tongue Tie and Lip Tie

The symptoms of tongue tie and lip tie can vary depending on the severity of the condition. Some common symptoms include:

  • Difficulty sticking out the tongue or moving it from side to side
  • Difficulty lifting the tongue to the roof of the mouth
  • Difficulty breastfeeding or bottle-feeding in infants
  • Speech difficulties, such as lisping or difficulty pronouncing certain sounds
  • Pain or discomfort while eating, speaking, or swallowing

Treatment Options for Tongue Tie and Lip Tie

If tongue tie or lip tie is causing discomfort or pain, there are several treatment options available:

  • Frenectomy: A frenectomy is a surgical procedure that involves cutting or releasing the tight frenulum. It can be performed using traditional surgical techniques or laser technology. Frenectomy is a safe and effective treatment option for both tongue tie and lip tie.
  • Oral exercises: In some cases, tongue tie or lip tie can be managed through oral exercises that help stretch and strengthen the frenulum. These exercises are often recommended before considering surgical intervention.
  • Speech therapy: For individuals experiencing speech difficulties due to tongue tie or lip tie, speech therapy can be beneficial. A speech therapist can provide exercises and techniques to improve speech and articulation.

Recovery and Aftercare

After undergoing a frenectomy or other treatment for tongue tie or lip tie, it is important to follow proper recovery and aftercare instructions. This may include:

  • Keeping the surgical site clean and free from infection
  • Using pain medication or topical numbing gels as prescribed
  • Practicing oral exercises or stretches as recommended by the healthcare provider
  • Scheduling follow-up appointments to monitor healing and address any concerns


Discomfort or pain in oral frenulae, such as tongue tie or lip tie, can significantly impact oral health and overall well-being. It is important to recognize the symptoms and seek appropriate treatment to alleviate discomfort and improve oral function. Whether through a frenectomy, oral exercises, or speech therapy, there are effective options available to address these conditions. Consult with a healthcare provider or oral surgeon to determine the best course of action for your specific situation. Remember, early intervention can lead to better outcomes and improved quality of life.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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