Glossary of Lip & Tongue Tie Terms-Franklin, TN

Understand the Problem

Doctor Paige Prather holding a baby

One of the many hurdles people have to jump over when it comes to understanding lip and tongue-ties is the language. Hearing complicated medical terms like frenectomy and ankyloglossia can make caring for your child seem confusing and frightening. Dr. Paige is passionate about helping patients fully understand their concerns and feel complete confidence in making decisions for their ongoing care. Call to schedule a consultation, and our team will walk you through all the ins and outs. In the meantime, feel free to explore the glossary of lip and tongue-tie terms from our Franklin, TN specialty dentist.



Closeup of child with tongue tie

The most commonly used term for a condition that occurs when the soft tissue (frenum) connecting the tongue to the floor of the mouth is too short, hard, or inflexible. When this occurs, ordinary movement while feeding/chewing, speaking, smiling, and performing other routine tasks is impeded.


Teething baby

This term specifically refers to problems due to the tissues connecting the upper or lower lip to the mouth being too tight or otherwise restricted.

Lip and Tongue-Tie

Mother holding baby who had lip and tongue tie

Often, both terms are used together to signify the entire group of health issues surrounding excessive and overly tight oral tissues.


Mother feeding baby a bottle

Used less often, this term describes the condition of too tight, short, hard, or inflexible connective tissue on the sides of the mouth connecting the cheeks to the skull bones and jaw.

Tethered Oral Tissues (TOTS)

Mother breastfeeding a baby

This is an acronym adopted by many practitioners as an umbrella term for lip, tongue, and buccal-ties. Tethered oral tissues is a much more descriptive and accessible phrase for patients to discuss. In most cases, TOTS is only used when discussing these oral health concerns in infants and young children.

Frenulum/ Frenula/ Frena

Mother and father with their baby

The connective tissues that hold the tongue, lips, and cheeks in place against the jaw and skull bones. These tissues are created during fetal development, and in most cases, the growing baby’s frena gradually reduce in size, allowing for necessary mouth movement before birth. However, some infants are born with these tissues enlarged, hardened, or immobile. You may see the word written as either frenum or frenulum. Both are technically correct, which can be a little confusing. However, the plural form is likely to be more confusing, since there are three acceptable plural forms: frenulums, frenula, and frena. All of these varied spellings and plural forms refer to the same tissues.

Frenectomy/ Frenotomy/ Frenulectomy

Mother playing with baby

The procedure to reduce the connective tissues and allow for freer movement of the lips, tongue, and mouth is known by many names. You may see frenectomy, frenotomy, or frenulectomy used interchangeably. All three refer to essentially the same procedure.