Everyone has a small strand of tissue, called a frenum, this tissue connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth and the lips to the gums. If the frenum is too tight, short, or thick, it can inhibit normal mouth function and development. These restrictions are known as lip and tongue-ties. A frenectomy is the procedure to remove this excess tissue and allow full oral function.
Symptoms of Lip and/or Tongue Ties
For nursing mothers and infants, lip and tongue-ties can often prevent them from experiencing a happy, healthy, and successful breastfeeding relationship. Without a full range of motion, babies cannot effectively latch and transfer milk. For mom this can lead to cracked or bleeding nipples, infection, and breast engorgement. Infants may also present any of the following symptoms:
- Poor weight gain
- Colic and/or reflux
- Slides off nipples
- Bites or chews nipples
- Weak suck
- Nurses frequently
The following video is a great visual of the ways lip and tongue-ties can inhibit breastfeeding. Without full flexibility of the lip, babies are unable to properly flange around the breast. Without the ability to fully lift the tongue to the palate, babies are unable to successfully expel and transfer milk.
Long-term Effects of Lip and Tongue Ties
There are numerous long-term effects of leaving lip- and/or tongue-ties uncorrected. The symptoms may not always be obvious in infants, but as a child grows and their mouth develops, complications may arise. In many cases these issues can be avoided by early intervention. However, because our doctors diagnose based upon function rather than appearance, they may recommend waiting until the child is older to see if the tie(s) will be problematic.
Some common problems faced by individuals with untreated ties include:
- Speech and articulation issues
- Gaps in front teeth and orthodontic issues
- Gum recession
- Painful brushing and flossing
- Poor food cleansing
- Decay and cavities
- Aversion to solid foods
Benefits of Releasing a Lip and/or Tongue Tie Procedure
One of the most significant benefits to having a frenectomy performed is that it makes breastfeeding much easier for your infant, while it can also help older children dealing with oral or linguistic issues. Advantages include:
• Better appetite and easier breastfeeding
• Improved bite function
• Healthy weight gain
• Reduced or removed acid reflux
• Easier breathing
• Increased self-confidence
• Improved speech
What Parents Need to Know
What to Expect at Your Lip and Tongue Tie Appointment
We understand how frustrating it can be when breastfeeding isn’t going well and how crucial the first weeks and months are in establishing this special bond between mom and baby. For this reason we set aside time in our schedule specifically for lip and tongue tie babies. We do our best to accommodate your schedule and provide relief as soon as possible, if not the same-day.
At your appointment you can expect a caring group of knowledgeable professionals that will be happy to answer any of your questions and walk you through every step we take. Your little one will be examined by one of our experienced pediatric dentist. After the exam you will be able to discuss treatment and ask any questions you may have.
The Frenectomy Procedure
Once it has been determined whether your child has a lip and/or tongue tie our provider may recommend surgical release of the tie(s), known as a frenectomy. We understand this decision can be difficult which is why we place such an emphasis on educating and supporting you and your family during this time.
If you make the decision to go forward with a frenectomy you can rest assured, at myKIDSdds, your little one is in great hands. Our pediatric dentists are certified and experienced in lip and tongue tie release using CO2 lasers. This method poses many advantages, the greatest being a quick in-office procedure time (only seconds per site) with minimal bleeding, an unlikely need for sutures, and shortened healing time. During the procedure your little one will be swaddled and the RDA working with your family will be with your baby the entire time. You can expect to have your little one back in your arms within 5 to 10 minutes. While you wait one of our dental assistants will review post-op care and other tips to help make the healing process easier for both you and your baby.
After the procedure we will take the time to practice post-op stretches with you and your little one and give you an opportunity to breastfeed if you choose to do so. We also like to see you back a week after the procedure to monitor healing and answer any additional questions.
Although there is little risk of infection, proper aftercare is very important. The pediatric dentists and team at myKIDSdds will provide and review proper care information before and after the procedure. With babies, you may notice that they refuse to nurse for the first 24-hours following the frenectomy, this is completely normally. Make sure to speak with a lactation consultant to discuss alternative feeding methods immediately following the procedure, as your baby may need help relearning how to breastfeed. We also recommend making an appointment with a cranio-sacral therapist to help relieve any pressure or tension caused by lip and/or tongue restriction. Older children should be gentle when brushing their teeth for the first few days following the frenectomy. Rinsing with salt water will help keep the area clean.
For more information, or to read how this procedure transformed the lives of one of our families, check out the blog post we wrote in partnership with our friends at Dallas Moms Blog or the blog post on our site.
Scheduling Your Child’s Frenectomy
Scheduling your child’s frenectomy can be stressful which is why, at myKIDSdds, we’ll do everything possible to make sure you and your child are informed and comfortable throughout the entire process. Our friendly team members will give you the information you need to prepare and care for your child before and after your visit. Many of our patients find the experience to be easy and stress-free. To learn more about frenecomies at myKIDSdds or to schedule your consult contact us today.