Nothing is more exciting than the arrival of your little bundle of joy. As you count for 10 fingers and toes, you may not notice your infant’s lip or tongue looks a little unusual. Tongue and lip ties affect about 5% to 10% of all newborns; however, it isn’t uncommon for the problem to go unnoticed until breastfeeding issues arise. Although you might not have expected the abnormality, it is easy to correct with a frenectomy, but what caused it in the first place?
What Causes Lip & Tongue Tie?
Tongue-tie (ankyloglossia) is a condition present at birth. A band of tissue causes the tongue to remain attached to the bottom of the mouth. The thin strip of tissue under the tongue (lingual frenulum) can be shorter or thicker than normal, restricting movements of the tongue. The abnormality can also affect the upper lip, called a lip tie. The tissue under the upper lip (maxillary labial frenum) can be short or tight, which can limit the normal range of motion.
As a result, a baby can have difficulty latching properly when breastfeeding. Without any intervention, a variety of problems can occur, including:
- Breastfeeding for extended periods
- Persistent hunger
- Difficulty gaining weight
- Clicking sound while the infant is feeding
- Difficulty swallowing
- Problems sticking out their tongue
- Mother with painful nipples
- Inadequate milk flow when breastfeeding
Neither issue is caused by anything a mother has done during pregnancy. While the exact cause isn’t known, there may be a genetic connection because it can run in families. Thankfully, your dentist can free the lip or tongue using a simple procedure.
How is Tongue or Lip Tie Treated?
Lip or tongue tie is easy to correct using a soft tissue laser. A topical anesthetic is applied to keep your child comfortable as a highly concentrated beam of light energy cuts the band of tissue. This provides a less invasive method than using a scalpel. The laser will cauterize the tissue to reduce bleeding. It also kills bacteria to minimize any risk of infections. The advanced technology provides a quick, comfortable solution to allow normal movements of the lip or tongue to ensure proper growth and development.
Typically, the procedure is completed in under 30 minutes and the recovery period is brief. Within 3 to 5 days, the tissue will begin to scar when following the proper aftercare instructions, like keeping your child’s mouth clean. After about 1-2 weeks, the tissue will have healed completely.
If you have any concerns about your infant’s lip or tongue, don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation with their dentist. Your dentist can help you and your baby look forward to mealtime again with normal lip or tongue functions.
About Dr. Vladimir Pastouk
Dr. Pastouk earned his dental degree from the Kiev Medical University School of Dentistry and worked at the University Hospitals of Cleveland, focusing on medical and dental surgeries. In addition to his experience in the dental field, he has also successfully delivered over 500 babies through c-sections. If your child shows signs of tongue or lip tie, contact our office to request a consultation.