Lip & Tongue Tie Laser Revision: a Complete Guide for Care Providers
Making breastfeeding comfortable and easy with laser dentistry.
As parents gain better access to information about breastfeeding and its benefits for them and their baby, more mothers—about 80% of them—are choosing to breastfeed their babies. A 2016 study found that 51.8% of babies are still breastfeeding at six months, which is up from only 35% in 2000. Despite this, only a third of women manage to breastfeed their babies for the recommended year, and about 60% of women report having to stop breastfeeding sooner than they would like. Lip and tongue ties are major causes of women struggling to breastfeed, but they’re incredibly simple issues to solve. This guide provides signs of lip and tongue ties that parents can look out for as well as how laser dentistry can help quickly and easily resolve the issue, making breastfeeding comfortable and easy for mother and child alike—perhaps for the first time.
What is a lip or tongue tie?
A tongue tie occurs when the frenelum, or the membrane that connects the tongue to the bottom of the mouth, is too thick or too short. Likewise, a lip tie occurs when the membrane that connects the upper or lower lip to the gums is too short or too thick.
Signs of a Lip or Tongue Tie
Babies with a lip tie or tongue tie don’t have a full range of motion in their tongue or lips, which often causes issues during breastfeeding sessions. They may struggle to latch onto the breast, let alone to latch on deeply. Parents may also notice a clicking sound as their baby nurses. This happens when the baby is losing the suction needed to stay latched onto the breast. These problems make it difficult for many babies to get enough milk in a single session, which can lead to near-constant feedings, fussiness while nursing, colic, and poor weight gain. Babies with a lip or tongue tie may also struggle to handle fast-flowing milk, choking or coughing instead of getting it down. In extreme cases, the issues caused by lip or tongue ties can lead to jaundice that needs to be treated by doctors.
As a baby with a lip or tongue tie grows into a toddler, parents may notice that they have trouble sticking their tongue out past a certain point or eating from a spoon. They may even struggle to eat certain finger foods. Tongue ties in particular can cause speech issues in toddlers because the lack of mobility in their tongues makes producing certain sounds difficult. In some cases, speech therapy and accompanying exercises can stretch out the frenulum, helping to resolve speech issues.
Effects of Lip or Tongue Tie on Breastfeeding Mothers
When a baby has a lip or tongue tie, the resulting issues with breastfeeding can have a significant impact on mothers as well. Frequent feedings are often exhausting for parents, and their baby’s constant struggle to get a deep latch, during which they may gum or chew at the breast, can cause pain, discomfort, and discouragement for mothers. It can damage mothers’ nipples and lead to engorged breasts, blocked ducts, and mastitis. Issues with the supply of milk, either producing too much or not enough, can also result from their baby’s struggle to nurse normally.
Benefits of Surgery
A laser revision is a simple laser dentistry procedure that can resolve both lip and tongue ties in just a few minutes, giving babies full mobility in their lip and tongue. The procedure’s results are immediate, allowing the baby to latch normally right after it’s complete. As a result, breastfeeding becomes a much easier and more comfortable experience for both mom and baby. Since their baby is nursing more easily, parents will also likely notice that their baby doesn’t need to eat as often, wakes up less in the night, and has an easier time gaining weight at a normal rate.
Plus, treating a lip or tongue tie when their baby is young prevents speech issues as they grow and allows them to easily carry out simple activities that tongue ties can make difficult, such as eating ice cream or playing a wind instrument. A tongue tie, in particular, can also make proper oral hygiene difficult, as it prevents children from using their tongue to remove bits of food from their teeth and can contribute to the formation of a gap between their bottom front teeth.
Overview of the Procedure
The procedure to resolve lip and tongue ties, called a frenectomy, is simple, and fast for your child. For older children, Dr. Mo or Dr. G will apply a topical anesthetic to the area to numb it before cutting the frenulum using a dental laser. For newborn babies, anesthetics are mostly avoided. This cutting-edge tool uses concentrated light to quickly and precisely cut the tissue, causing less bleeding and inflammation than traditional tools like a scalpel or a scissor. Dental lasers also sterilize as they cut and encourage healing, so they significantly reduce the chances that the area will become infected and help it heal faster. The laser revision process is incredibly fast, taking just a few minutes from start to finish.
The recovery process is generally just as simple as the procedure itself. Visible healing begins within one or two days and is generally complete in about a week. Parents may notice a white scab forming on the wound during the beginning stages of healing, but this is normal and heals quickly. The most important part of the recovery process is keeping this area mobile and stretched to ensure that the frenulum doesn’t reattach to the base of the tongue as it heals. This is possible, but thankfully it’s relatively easy to prevent! Dr. Mo and Dr. G will provide parents with care instructions and exercises that will help them prevent the frenulum from reattaching and speed the healing process while helping to strengthen the baby’s tongue.
How to Get a Consultation
Thankfully, it’s easy to get a consultation regarding a child’s lip or tongue tie and the condition can be diagnosed with a simple physical exam. Parents simply need to find a pediatric dentist or pediatrician who is experienced at diagnosing lip and tongue ties as well as performing frenectomies using cutting-edge technology to make the procedure as comfortable and successful as possible. Must Love Kids is a great resource in Vancouver, WA, for lip tie and tongue tie consultations and treatments. Once you’ve chosen an office you feel that you can trust, it’s as simple as calling and scheduling an appointment for a consultation!