What are tongue and lip ties?
Everyone has a band of tissue known as a lingual (tongue) frenulum that helps anchor the tongue to the floor of the mouth and a lip frenulum that connects the lip to the mouth. When that frenulum is either too short, thick, or tight, it restricts the lip and tongue movement. When the tongue is prevented from moving properly and freely, it will have a negative impact on breastfeeding, sleeping, eating, speaking, oral development, oral stimulation, and more, just to name a few.
Infants born with lip or tongue ties often have difficulty latching with other symptoms, leading many mothers to abandon their breastfeeding efforts and goals. Breastfeeding is important in delivering nutritional and immunologic protection for the child, and also helps with mom and baby’s bond. Approximately 3-15% of babies are negatively affected by a tongue tie in which they cannot move their tongues freely due to its tightness. Our hope is to help bring education to your family to help catch these restrictions in the mouth early to help babies thrive at a younger age.
Dr. Bethany has taken many courses that are tongue-tied focused and truly understands that releasing your child’s restriction in the mouth is only one part of a successful treatment outcome. Dr. Bethany is all about a team approach for you and your baby. She believes in getting a functional assessment by a specialist to help provide exercises to retrain tongue movement or tension relief prior to the frenectomy procedure. We know this is crucial as well as receiving care for yourself if you are experiencing any physical discomfort during breastfeeding. Part of your team can consist of one or a combination of an International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiner (IBCLC), chiropractor, occupational therapist (OT), cranial sacral therapist, feeding therapist, myofunctional therapist, and/or speech language pathologist (SLP). Dr. Bethany can help assemble a team for you if you do not already have one or if you would like some recommendations. Moms and babies need personalized care plans as the tongue tie process is not a “one size fits all” situation. What works for one baby, may not work for another, and we are here to help!
Signs and Symptoms of a Tongue Tie in Infants
- Sliding on and off breast when latching/feeding
- Falling asleep while nursing
- Upper lip curls inward when latched
- Mouth open at rest
- Gumming/chewing of the nipple
- Noisy suckling or clicking sounds while nursing
- Milk leaking from mouth while feeding
- Unable to hold pacifier in mouth
- Reflux or colic symptoms
- Gagging/choking while eating
- Slow/poor weight gain
- Breathing sounds (snoring, snorting)
- Lip blisters
- Gas pain
- Noisy breathing/snoring sounds when sleeping
- Frustrated at the breast
- Disorganized tongue movement
Signs and Symptoms a Mother Experiences When their Baby has a Tongue Tie
- Nipple pain and damage
- Lipstick shaped, creased, bleeding nipples
- Decreased/low milk supply
- Flattened nipples after breastfeeding
- Prolonged feedings
- Poor breast drainage
Signs and Symptoms for Toddlers
You might hear a lot that children will “grow out” of these concerns about being tongue tied. However, their body will learn to compensate to achieve what appears to be normal functioning, but is not.
- Difficulty swallowing certain textures of foods
- Choking/gagging on certain solid foods
- Digestive difficulty
- Speech delay/articulation issues
- Tongue Thrusting
- Mouth Breathing
- Insufficient development of the palate
- Dental teeth crowding
- Retruded lower jaw
- Teeth grinding
- Early signs of cavities
- Forward head posture
- Low oral tone
LightScalpel C02 Laser for Frenectomies
Dr. Bethany will treat your child’s tongue tie by releasing the restriction utilizing the latest CO2 laser technology from LightScalpel. Our LightScalpel CO2 laser is a device that produces a concentrated beam of light. The highly focused CO2 laser beam vaporizes cleanly and precisely while sealing blood vessels at the same time. Here are some of the amazing advantages when using a LightScalpel CO2 laser for the procedure:
- Minimized Bleeding: As it vaporizes the tissue, the LightScalpel laser seals small blood vessels. The resulting reduction in bleeding makes a frenectomy a quick and easy procedure.
- Less Swelling and Discomfort: The LightScalpel CO2 laser beam seals lymphatics, resulting in less post-operative swelling and discomfort associated with traditional scalpel procedures.
- Reduced Risk of Infection: The sanitizing effect of the laser minimizes the risk of infection and means faster healing.
- Shortened Procedure Time: Less bleeding ensures the improved visibility of the treatment area. This helps to minimize the duration of the procedure.
- Faster Recovery: Reduced trauma, minimal to no bleeding, and less swelling and discomfort means the infant can breastfeed immediately after the procedure.
For babies, Dr. Bethany will apply a topical anesthesia gel in the area of the release to provide extra pain control and for older children, local anesthesia will be done. By using the CO2 laser, we know it helps minimize any discomfort during the procedure.
Follow Up Care
Healing can happen very fast for these little ones! Follow up care is important to see how healing is progressing and to help answer any questions that occurred after the procedure as well as helping with any of the stretches that need to be done to prevent reattachment of the healing site.
The minimum follow up care is as follows:
- Day after phone call with Dr. Bethany
- 48-72 hour office visit
- 1-2 week office visit from procedure date
Our goal of these frequent follow ups is to make sure you’re comfortable and that the baby’s new tongue freedom is going to where it needs to go! Subsequent follow-ups will be dependent on what is observed as each baby heals differently. With these follow ups, we also want to assess and see if any additional care is needed to help you or your baby.