How a Tongue Tie or Lip Tie Can Affect Breastfeeding
Ask yourself these questions, are you feeling helpless about feeding your baby? Is your baby having difficulty gaining weight – and you believe it is related to how they are eating? Does your baby make loud clicking noises as they feed? And lastly, does your baby have difficulty latching when breastfeeding?
If you answered “YES” to any of the above questions, there is a good chance your child has a tongue or lip tie. While there are are multiple other reasons your child experiences these issues, more often than not it is related to their ability to move and articulate their tongue or lips to a certain degree. We’re going to explore some of common underlying problems in this article, but if your child does indeed have a tongue or lip tie, we recommend a Laser Frenectomy procedure to release the tissue that is the cause of their problems.
Not to be confused with the idiom “tongue tied”, which refers to not having difficulty expressing oneself due to embarrassment or shyness, the tongue tie we are referring to is a physical impediment. The tongue (and lip) is attached to the mouth with a muscular tissue called a frenum (or frenulum). When this is too tight (some call it short), it can restrict mobility of the tongue (or lips).
A tongue tie can be oftentimes be distinguished when the tongue is elevated as it will appear to be shaped like a heart or cup. The “tightness” of this muscular tissue results in the infant not being able to extend their tongue out far enough to create the necessary suction required to draw milk from the nipple. Some children will have the ability to still feed adequately, leaving the underlying issue unknown, however in the long term, a tongue tie can lead to speech problems (also referred to as Speech Apraxia) and/or issues later on with transferring food around the mouth for chewing. Tongue ties have also been related to Sleep Apnea.
Most Pediatricians will be able to diagnose a tongue tie at an early stage. However, if you have experienced any issues with feeding, express this to your child’s doctor so they can give a proper evaluation. If you are still unsure, Atlanta Periodontics has performed countless Laser Frenectomy operations on children and can provide consultation.
As discussed above, a frenum (or frenulum) is the muscular tissue that connects the tongue to the mouth. Well, this band of tissue is also what connects our gums to our lips as well! As mentioned above, the frenulum attached to the lips can be tight as well. This is called a Lip Tie.
Lip Ties can have an effect on breastfeeding as well. A tight upper lip frenum may compromise flanging, or rolling back/up and can appear as a tight, tense upper lip during nursing. Therefore, it can result in a shallow latch leading to a loss of “liquid gold” breast milk.
Something to consider is that a tight upper lip may trap milk against the front teeth. This constant contact of milk leads to decalcification and dental decay. Our bodies naturally clean these areas, but this process is obstructed when the lips are too tight. Another thing to know is that this same issue can occur with bottle-fed children. In some cases, the frenum attaches too close to the ridge of the gums, or into the palate behind the teeth leading to possible spacing of the teeth (diastema).
How Laser Frenectomy helps fix these common feeding issues
Using state-of-the-art Laser systems to repair the frenum, we are able to expedite both the procedure and recovery time involved in treatment. After an initial consultation, where we accurately diagnose the issues and treatment, we can schedule the appointment for repair. Most parents prefer to have the procedure done the same day as the consultation. The repair procedure is very quick and requires minimal to no anesthesia.
We have seen that immediately following the procedure infants latch to the breast or bottle with no problems. Occasionally, they’ll be fussy, but within a few days they’re back to their normal, happy-baby attitudes – though less hungry!
We’ll also teach you special exercises to perform 2-3x a day for 2 weeks to encourage recovery. Read more on our page about Post-Operative Care.
If you have questions or would like to schedule a consultation please reach out to us at (404)255-9511 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also message us through our website and someone from our team will follow up with you.