How We Treat Lip and Tongue Tie

Some babies are born with conditions that can make breastfeeding difficult, such as lip or tongue-tie. Lip and tongue-tie do not always occur concurrently. However, each disorder can interfere with a child’s ability to feed and develop properly.

Here is a bit of information about lip and tongue-tie and why they need to be corrected.

What Is Lip-tie?

A lip-tie typically affects the upper lip of a child. The tie occurs when the skin beneath the central portion of the upper lip, which is called the maxillary frenulum, is too short, causing the lip to join too tightly with the upper gums.

The tight connection and close proximity of the lip to the gums can severely restrict the lip’s ability to move. As a result, the proper latching that is needed for the child to breastfeed successfully may be negatively affected.

A child who has a lip-tie may also suffer from tongue-tie.

What Is Tongue-tie?

A child who has tongue-tie may be unable to move his or her tongue freely. The slender bit of tissue that connects the underside of the tongue to the floor of the lower palate is the lingual frenulum. When the frenulum beneath the tongue is too short, tongue-tie occurs.

Babies who suffer from tongue-tie may not be able to feed properly. Even if the child is able to latch onto the mother’s breast, the youngster may not be able to express enough milk to receive sufficient nutrition. As a result, the baby may not gain weight as he or she should. Also, the mother’s breasts may not fully empty during feedings, leading to blocked milk ducts or inflamed breast tissue.

There are multiple signs that may indicate that a baby is having problems feeding because of tongue-tie.

The Baby’s Symptoms

  • Inability of the tongue to move laterally
  • Repeated loss of suction to the breast during feedings
  • Overly responsive gag reflex
  • Inability to move the tongue beyond the lips
  • Clicking noises from the mouth during feeding sessions
  • Failure to gain weight
  • Square or flattened tip of the tongue
  • Choking during nursing
  • Ingestion of air instead of milk during breastfeeding
  • Snoring and mouth breathing
  • Lengthy or overly frequent breastfeeding sessions
  • Thrush

The Mother’s Symptoms

  • Nipple injuries and discomfort
  • Pressure marks on the nipple after breastfeeding
  • Flattened nipples following nursing
  • Engorged breasts
  • Mastitis

The symptoms of the child and mother usually resolve after the tongue-tie is corrected. Thus, as soon as tongue-tie is suspected, an appointment with a pediatric dentist should be scheduled. The dentist can assess the child’s mouth and determine whether or not treatment is required.

Dangers of Leaving Lip and Tongue-tie Untreated

If lip or tongue-tie remains untreated, the child may incur multiple developmental issues. Here are a few of them:

  • Problems chewing and transitioning to solids
  • Speech impediments
  • Dental crowding
  • Digestive difficulties
  • Sinus problems
  • Gaps between the teeth
  • Tooth decay

The timely treatment of the child’s condition can help ensure that the little one avoids as many developmental delays and health problems as possible.

Treating Lip-tie and Tongue-tie

If the dentist confirms the child’s condition and feels that it requires correction, the tongue or lip-tie can be released. The corrective procedure, which is called a frenotomy, is quick and easy.

Lip-tie Frenotomy

A lip-tie frenotomy should be performed whenever the maxillary frenulum is so restrictive that it prevents the upper lip from moving back from the breast during nursing. A lip-tie is sometimes corrected only after a tongue-tie frenotomy does not remedy the feeding issues of the child. The procedure involves the simple snipping of the maxillary frenulum.

Tongue-tie Frenotomy

A lingual frenectomy can be performed in less than a minute and causes little pain or bleeding. When a tongue-tie frenotomy is performed, the dentist cuts the lingual frenulum to increase the tongue’s freedom from the palate floor.

The dentist snips the front portion of the frenulum to improve the tongue’s ability to move. The depth of the cut is based on the original length of the frenulum.

If you believe that your child may be suffering from lip or tongue-tie, contact our office to schedule an appointment. The professional dental staff of the Pediatric Dentistry of Central Florida can assess your child’s condition and determine whether or not a frenotomy is necessary.