Problems latching on. Painful nursing. Colic. Failure to thrive. Many of these problems can be caused by a tongue-tie or lip-tie in a baby. Check out the following video to learn more about the treatment of a tongue-tie or lip-tie at our pediatric dentistry.

When it comes to the treatment of a tongue-tie or lip-tie, Redwood Pediatric Dentistry performs more correction procedures than any other pediatric dentistry in Salt Lake, Taylorsville, South Salt Lake, and West Valley. Before a laser lip-tie or tongue-tie release is done, each patient is given a full examination and a determination is made based on the patient’s individual needs as to whether or not this is the best course of treatment.

If the procedure is recommended for your child, it is often performed on a same-day basis because so many families travel sometimes for hours for our experience with this procedure. Our goal is to help parents and children understand more about this common condition, that’s often misunderstood. Keep reading to learn about these issues and how we treat tongue-tie and lip-tie reversals.

What is Tongue-Tie or a Lip-Tie?

For most people, the term tongue-tied brings to mind a situation in which you simply cannot find the right words to say! For many parents and children, however, being tongue-tied is something entirely different.

A condition in which the band of tissue (lingual frenulum) that tethers the bottom of the tongue’s tip to the floor of the mouth is unusually short, thick, or tight is known as tongue-tie (ankyloglossia). This condition results in limited use of the tongue. Likewise, the piece of tissue behind your upper lip, known as a frenulum, can also be too short, thick, or stiff, which can keep the upper lip from freely moving and is known as a lip-tie. A lip-tie can prevent the upper lip from being curled or from moving normally. If treatment is needed, a surgical or laser cut can be made to release either frenulum and is known as a (frenotomy).

How Can a Tongue-Tie or Lip-Tie Affect My Child

Both conditions are relatively common, although they do not cause problems for everyone who has them. However, considering that both the lip and tongue are complex groups of muscles and vitally important for all oral functions, a lip-tie or tongue-tie can lead to problems in children with:

  • Nursing
  • Feeding
  • Dental development
  • Speech
  • Difficulties with proper oral habits which can lead to dental decay

Moving into adolescence and adulthood, untreated lip-ties and tongue-ties can even cause:

  • Neck pain
  • Migraines
  • Shoulder pain
  • Speech problem

Signs that Your Baby Has a Lip-Tie or Tongue-Tie

If a newborn has a tongue-tie or lip-tie, they may have a hard time sucking, which can result in poor weight gain or even failure to thrive in severe cases. When the baby fails to create a good seal around the nipple, they may end up swallowing a lot of air or they may be unable to adequately nurse, which can cause problems such as:

  • Gas
  • Colic
  • Extended nursing sessions
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Reflux
  • Spitting up
  • Excessive drooling
  • Falling off the breast
  • A gap between the teeth and the jaw
  • Falling asleep while nursing
  • Biting the nipple during feeding (after the teeth have come in, of course)

While sometimes a tight or short frenum can be obvious upon visual inspection, many times, the condition is not so obvious. A baby with a tongue-tie or lip-tie might have audible sucking sounds that are similar to a clicking noise heard when the baby is given the breast or bottle. The baby may also experience thrush or have an inability to hold a pacifier.

Mothers are often the best indicator as to whether or not there is a problem with a tongue-tie or lip-tie. Signs to watch for in a nursing mother include:

  • Significant pain while nursing
  • Trouble getting the baby to latch on
  • Mastitis
  • Plugged ducts
  • Nipple cracking or bleeding
  • Nipple blanching
  • Sleep deprivation

How Treating a Tongue-Tie or Lip-Tie can Help Mothers and Babies

Mothers with babies experiencing issues with either type of frenum tie often call the feeding of the baby the equivalent to a “full-time job” because they are left hungry all the time, unable to get enough milk, or spitting up what they are able to get. Unfortunately, if the problem is left untreated, mothers often abandon breastfeeding.

However, when a lip-tie or tongue-tie is successfully treated early on, mothers often report relief of pain while nursing and a better latch from the baby. Reflux and colic symptoms often go away completely, and weight gain is facilitated. Furthermore, the sooner a tongue-tie or lip-tie is treated, the child will be able to better learn how to use their tongue and mouth correctly.

What Happens During the Treatment for a Lip-Tie or Tongue-Tie (Frenectomy)

Traditionally, healthcare practitioners snipped the tongue-tie or lip-tie with surgical scissors. At Redwood Pediatric Dentistry, we have invested in a soft-tissue laser that enables safer treatment with less risk for bleeding and trauma to the baby.

What Happens During the Procedure of a Tongue-Tie or Lip-Tie Reversal?

Laser treatment has made this procedure much less painful and more accurate than ever before in history. In only a few short moments, the entire procedure is done. Here is the typical process:

  1. Mother, parent or guardian holds the child in the dentist chair during the procedure
  2. A topical numbing agent is applied to the area
  3. The dentist uses a small handheld laser to cut the lip-tie or tongue-tie precisely
  4. The baby is then free to begin nursing or to be comforted by the mother, parent, or guardian
  5. The dentist will review instructions for post-procedure treatment of pain relief and stretching exercises, which are very important

How to Help Baby Heal and Sooth Post-Procedure

Your mouth has amazing healing abilities! As such, the healing of a post-procedure tongue-tie or lip-tie reversal is typically only a couple of days in length! Many babies will be unfazed by the procedure, while others may show signs of discomfort and require a little extra TLC. Regardless of how your baby handles it, it’s always best to give some extra cuddles and attention during this time. Here are some suggestions:

  • Perform skin-to-skin contact immediately after the procedure
  • Breastfeed immediately following the reversal
  • A topical anesthetic may be prescribed by the dentist
  • Apply ice to the affected area to reduce pain and inflammation
  • Consider rubbing organic coconut oil to the area
  • An amber teething necklace may help to promote a good inflammatory response
  • Tylenol or ibuprofen may be recommended in certain cases

Perform Oral Exercises Post-Procedure

Because the mouth has such amazing healing properties, it’s important to perform post-procedure exercises to prevent the cut tie from reattaching to the site. At Redwood Pediatric Dentistry, we will provide post-procedure exercise instructions for the type of reversal your child had done.

When to Call Your Dentist or Doctor

Complications from a tongue-tie or lip-tie reversal are rare. Minor bleeding and increased fussiness are completely normal for a few days after the treatment. Be sure to call us or your family doctor if:

  • You notice your baby is extremely upset and not responding to normal pain relief methods
  • If there are any signs of infection such as fever or swelling around the area
  • If there is excessive sleepiness or restlessness
  • If excessive bleeding is present

Are You Ready for the Pediatric Dental Experience Your Child Deserves?

You’re going to appreciate the level of skill our team of doctors brings to the table. They’ve had extensive training and continuing education courses to excel their knowledge and ability to perform laser treatments specializing in tongue and lip-tie.

Over the years, it’s been our absolute privilege to provide pediatric dental care to thousands of patients and to witness, first-hand, life-changing results. Mothers who were finally able to nurse. Young children relieved of frequent mouth and tooth pain. Good dental health is a vital part of your overall stasis of health and well-being.

Pediatricians and lactation specialists throughout Salt Lake, Taylorsville, South Salt Lake, and West Valley trust us for their patients’ needs, as evidenced in hundreds of referrals per year. They trust us and we work closely alongside them. You can trust us too.

Call us today at (801) 281-8881 to set up an appointment. We can’t wait to hear from you!