When Intervention is Needed :: Lip Ties, Tongue Ties, and Frenectomies

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This post has been sponsored by myKIDSdds.
READING TIME: 6 min.
This post has been sponsored by myKIDSdds to provide more information about a very common dental problem among children. We hope this guest post provides helpful answers for our readers! 

I am writing this for any mother who really wants to breastfeed, is having a difficult time, and has no idea what to do about it. Don’t give up!

I was devastated to lose the breastfeeding relationship early with our first child and wanted to ensure that it worked with our second. After having some trouble getting started with our second daughter, a lactation consultant diagnosed her with a posterior tongue tie and lip tie. This can affect a baby’s ability to properly nurse and get enough milk, and can cause a laundry list of other problems—topped by lots of pain for mama. I had no idea with my first that this condition existed but started researching how to have it revised. I decided I wanted to go with a laser procedure, as this does not require anesthetic for infants, nor stitches. This, combined with our pediatrician’s recommendation, led us to myKIDSdds.

When we went in to have our infant daughter examined, they put us in an office setting (not an exam chair) so that she would be comfortable. Dr. Kogut had me sit across from him knee-to-knee and laid my baby on a soft mat between us. The examination took less than two minutes. He confirmed both the lip and the tongue tie, and I held our baby as we discussed the frenectomy. Dr. Kogut seemed to have all the time in the world as he discussed the procedure with me and answered all of my questions.

Everyone has a band of tissue called a frenum that connects their tongue to the floor of their mouth and the lips to their gums. While these are designed to attach the tissues of the mouth together, if they are tight or short it can restrict normal function. This is referred to as a “tongue-tie” or “lip-tie”. A frenectomy is a procedure that releases the ties to allow structures of the mouth to move more freely.

The day that we went in to have the procedure done, I was anxious despite being confident in the doctor we had chosen. Having your baby taken from you to do any sort of medical treatment does not come without concerns for any mom. The team at myKIDSdds was wonderful and reassuring. They greeted us with a smile, carried our daughter around to meet all the staff, and lavished her with love and attention.

Our family stayed in the waiting room during the procedure, and they came to get me after only 10 minutes. Immediately after the procedure I was able to nurse, and I could tell the difference in her latch right away. Even with some deep cracks, nursing was not agonizingly painful. Over the next few days, the pain went away entirely and we have been happily nursing for the past four months.

I so wish someone had been there to tell me about this procedure with our first child so we could have continued the breastfeeding relationship, as she has both a lip and tongue tie as well and will have to have them revised. I know it may seem scary to have this procedure done on your sweet infant baby, but it is definitely worth it if you want to maintain the breastfeeding relationship. You will feel better, baby will be able to eat better, and with the team at myKIDSdds, baby will be in the BEST hands.

Thank you to Jill Britton for sharing her story!

Get the Facts about Frenectomies from myKIDSdds

Curious to know more about tongue ties or lip ties? A special thanks to Dr. Mark Kogut and Dr. Alejandra Villaseñor for taking time out to answer some of our readers’ questions about frenectomies. Keep reading to learn more! 

What are some signs and symptoms of a tongue tie and/or lip tie? Is there an age where parents would begin to notice these symptoms?

For nursing mothers and infants some of the signs that baby may have a tongue tie and/or lip tie are difficulty latching or unproductive, sustained sucking. This can lead to cracked or bleeding nipples, pain in nipples from biting, and breast engorgement. It may also be a factor in poor weight gain, colic, or reflux in these babies.

Example of Baby with Tongue-Tie
Example of Baby with Tongue-Tie (via Lawrence A. Kotlow, DDS, PC)

What is the most recommended treatment for tongue tie/lip tie?

Surgical release, or a frenectomy, is the treatment of choice. A specialist who is trained specifically in these procedures using traditional methods (cut and suture) or a laser should be selected. The dentists at myKIDSdds are educated experts in structures of the mouth as well as having extensive training in frenectomy surgical procedures. Their use of a state-of-the-art laser presents many advantages such as greater precision, minimal bleeding, unlikely need for sutures, minimal inflammation, and shortened healing time. It also creates a kinder, gentler experience for the parents as well.

What are the long-term effects of not correcting a tie?

There are numerous long-term effects possible if lip and/or tongue ties are left uncorrected. As children develop language, a tongue-tie can often cause articulation problems, while older children may begin to see gum recession or poor food clearing which could lead to cavities. A lip tie can create an abnormal gap between the upper front teeth that if untreated, can be challenging for orthodontists to correct due to the thickness and height of tissue consuming the space. A lip tie can also make brushing uncomfortable as lifting their lip to brush the gumline is restricted.

Example of a baby with lip-tie.
Example of a baby with lip-tie. (via Lawrence A. Kotlow, DDS, PC)

If a parent is concerned their child might have this issue, should they see a specialist first and get a recommendation? (If so, what kind of specialist should they see?) Or can they come in directly to myKIDSdds for a diagnosis?

Many of our frenectomy patients are referred by lactation specialists when moms and babies begin to have trouble nursing. We fully support having a lactation specialist work with you initially if nursing problems are the cause of concern to see if the difficulties can be resolved without having any procedures performed. If the lactation specialist recommends a frenectomy to complement achieving nursing success, myKIDSdds would be your next step for an evaluation and possible procedure. You are also welcome to come directly to us with your concerns at any age.

Are there any common misconceptions about tongue-ties or lip-ties?

The most common misconception is that they correct themselves. A common comment is “they will fall and cut the frenum themselves.” This is not a good treatment plan, in our opinion. We believe in addressing the symptoms and concerns with a planned, precise laser procedure for achieving the most successful outcome. Other misconceptions are that lip ties and tongue ties are not related to difficulty nursing and that tongue ties do not have an effect on speech. Our frenectomy patients have seen tremendous relief and progress in both areas following corrections.

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