If your baby is having a hard time breastfeeding or you’re experiencing pain during or after a breastfeeding session, there’s a chance your baby has a tongue tie or a lip tie.
In this blog, we’re going to help you check your baby to see if this is the case, and we’re going to tell you what you can do to correct the issue quickly and help your baby grow up happy, healthy, and strong!
What is a Tongue Tie?
If you lift up your tongue, you will notice a flap of skin that connects the underside of your tongue to the “floor” of your mouth. This is called a lingual frenum, and everyone has one. However, if it is too tight, it can impact the tongue’s ability to move and can lead to issues.
Tongue ties are usually detected early in infancy since it can seriously impact the ability to breastfeed. Later on, it can cause speech difficulties and other issues.
What is a Lip Tie?
With a lip tie, the frenum in question is located between the lips and the gums on both the top and the bottom of the mouth. This is called the labial frenum. Just like the lingual frenum under the tongue, everyone has them and the purpose of them is to give your mouth more stability as it grows and develops.
However, a frenulum that has abnormalities either in size or placement can cause difficulties with breastfeeding (just like a tongue tie) and there is some evidence to suggest that it can also lead to an increased risk for tooth decay in toddlers.
How to Check for Tongue or Lip Ties
Since we all have labial and lingual frenulum, you probably won’t be able to tell if there’s an issue just by looking at your baby’s mouth. Instead, you will want to see if your baby is displaying any of these common symptoms:
- They are struggling to latch onto the breast
- They seem to have difficulty breathing while nursing
- You hear them making a clicking sound
- They often fall asleep or get fatigued while breastfeeding
- They’re not gaining weight as quickly as you expect
Similarly, if you are experiencing nipple pain, nipple bruising, poor milk supply, clogged milk ducts, or recurring thrush, it might be a sign that your baby has a tongue or lip tie since they may not be able to properly nurse.
Of course, you should seek a professional opinion if you’re worried something might be wrong. Your pediatrician and/or lactation consultant can help you determine if a tongue or lip tie issue may be what’s causing the difficulties you’re experiencing with breastfeeding, or you can always give us a call. We do a comprehensive exam and evaluate a multitude of parameters prior to proceeding with a frenectomy to ensure success for our mothers and infants.
What About Tongue or Lip Ties in Older Kids?
If your children have some of the following symptoms, we highly suggest scheduling an appointment so we can determine if a frenectomy is needed:
- Tiredness or a lack of energy
- Frequent dry lips, even with use of lip balm
- Speech and/or swallowing issues
- Chronic neck pain, back, and shoulder pain
- Clenching or grinding teeth
- Reflux, heartburn, or digestion issues.
- Snoring or sleep apnea
- Lisp as child
- Jaw pain and/or audible jaw click
- Mouth breathing (air coming in on teeth)
At Inspire Dental Wellness, we perform frenectomies on patients of all ages, even adults. You can read more about our infant frenectomy services here or frenectomies for those older than one here. Dr. Erica uses a multidisciplinary approach that integrates myofunctional therapy (and sometimes physical therapy and/or other types of body work) before and after the Functional Lingual Frenectomy. Myofunctional Therapy is required for pre and post surgery for optimal function and healing.
We also use a LightScalpel CO2 laser to vaporize the frenum tissue cleanly and precisely, while sealing blood vessels at the same time. This minimizes bleeding, swelling, and discomfort, making the surgical procedure quick and easy for both parents and their little ones. In addition, the sanitizing effect of the laser reduces the risk of infection and means faster healing and reduced risk of scarring.
To learn more or to schedule your consultation, give the team at Inspire Dental Wellness a call at 708-435-2858.