TONGUE-TIE can be defined as a structural abnormality of the lingual frenum. When the frenum is normal, it is elastic and does not interfere with the movements of the tongue in sucking, eating, clearing food off the teeth in preparation for swallowing and, of course, in speech. When it is short, thick, tight or broad it has an adverse effect on oromuscular function, feeding and speech. It can also cause problems when it extends from the margin of the tongue and across the floor of the mouth to finish at the base of the teeth.
LIP-TIE is a thick piece of muscleless tissue that connects the upper lip to the upper gums making any movement of the lip particularly hard. It restricts the movement due to its thickness or tightness, or both. Though most infants have some degree of upper lip tie, when it becomes large and tight enough, it may prevent the upper lip from flaring out or curling up which is essential for breast-feeding in order to create an adequate seal with the breast. Also, some infants with upper lip tie will exhibit an upper lip crease with the skin turning pale in an attempt to flare up during breast-feeding.
Signs and symptoms of tongue-tie/lip-tie include:
- Difficulty lifting the tongue to the upper teeth or moving the tongue from side to side
- Trouble sticking out the tongue past the lower front teeth
- A tongue that appears notched or heart shaped when stuck out
- Pro-longed breast-feedings
- Difficulty with latching
- Infant is excessively gassy
See a doctor if:
- Your baby has signs of tongue-tie / lip-tie that cause problems, such as having trouble breast-feeding
- A speech-language pathologist thinks your child’s speech is affected by tongue-tie
- Your older child complains of tongue problems that interfere with eating, speaking or reaching the back teeth
Here at Loudoun Pediatric Dentistry, the frenotomy for tongue-tie and lip-tie are most commonly performed using a LASER. This relatively new option is suitable for infants and older children. No general anesthetic is used, but an analgesic gel might be applied. The procedure is very quick, taking only 3 to 5 minutes to perform, but some cooperation from the patient in keeping still is required. The laser technique is bladeless, bloodless and suture-less. It is less bleeding because laser performs hemostasis as it operates, it eliminating the need for sutures in most cases and minimal involvement of adjacent tissue, the wound healing can occur more rapidly and with less post-operative discomfort.
If your infant or child needs a tongue-tie/lip-tie treatment or you have any questions, feel free to contact us today.