Ankyloglossia, more commonly known as a tongue tie, is when the band of tissue underneath the tongue (frenum) tethers the tongue to the floor of the mouth in such a way that restricts proper movement. This can affect a child’s nursing, eating, hygiene, and speech, all to varying degrees.
A lip tie is when the frenum attaching the lip to the gums is tight and/or very thick. This can occur in conjunction with a tongue tie or by itself. Lip ties can also cause issues with nursing, eating, hygiene, and speech. In addition, a significant lip tie can cause the cosmetic problem of a large gap between the front teeth.
The earliest reason for a lip tie and tongue tie to be identified is issues with breastfeeding.
The following are some of the most common findings with an infant lip tie and tongue tie:
These issues can create many challenges for a new mother and infant. The act of breastfeeding is very natural and instinctual, and it helps create a nurturing bond between mother and infant. Revising a lip tie and/or tongue tie can be very successful in alleviating or eliminating these barriers to nursing.
A frenectomy is a procedure where a band of tissue (frenum) is released to allow for a better range of motion.
After a thorough evaluation and discussion with the family regarding the goals that you have for your infant, the dentist may recommend a tongue and/or lip frenectomy to help alleviate the restricted range of motion and associated symptoms. This procedure is done with soft tissue laser, which has the following benefits: antibacterial, little to no bleeding, quick recovery time, and no stitches. A laser frenectomy does not require general anesthetic and can be done in our office. A small amount of local anesthetic is put on the frenum and surrounding tissues, and then the laser vaporizes, cauterizes, and sterilizes the tissue at the same time.
Following a frenectomy, breastfeeding can be resumed at any time. Do not be alarmed if changes are not seen immediately, as the surgical site is still numb for 30-45 minutes. Also, there may be some mild soreness for 1-2 days. Over the span of a week, most babies showed marked improvement in their breastfeeding, along with added comfort for the mother.
The surgical site will appear as a small diamond shape with a yellow-gray coloring, similar to the appearance of a wet scab. Post-operative stretching exercises will be recommended to aid in preventing reattachment of the frenum. These exercises are very important, as this helps tissue to heal in a more favorable position and help prevent reattachment.
If your child is fussy or restless post-surgery, breastfeeding and comforting them is recommended. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) may be given as needed for discomfort. Additional work with a lactation consultant, craniosacral therapist, or chiropractor may be effective in improving breastfeeding as well.
If you feel that you child is being affected by a lip and/or tongue tie and would like to have this evaluated by Dr. Joe Parker, please call 972-564-2222.