As one of a few Atlanta Periodontists trained in state of the art laser therapy, I understand the laser frenectomy benefits for infants unable to breast feed. But it was not until my friend’s new grandbaby needed the procedure that I saw for myself the overwhelming benefit it gives to new moms!
Once this simple procedure was done, the baby was able to easily breastfeed, and he did with gusto! The latching was easy and immediate. There were tears in all of our eyes, witnessing the joy of new mother and son bonding. His feelings of frustration and her feelings of failure were gone. I became convinced at that point that the sooner babies have the frenectomy performed, the better, for all concerned. And by using the laser, the frenectomy is an in office procedure performed in minutes, with or without localized numbing, and not an involved hospital surgery with general anesthesia.
Frenectomy helps when your baby can’t latch
When a baby cannot properly breastfeed, there are immediate problems for the infant and mother. A baby whose tongue cannot function or has limited mobility because the tongue is abnormally attached to the lingual frenum (floor of the mouth) or upper lip, will often be unable to properly latch to the breast. This condition is called Ankyloglossia. It can be fixed with an operation, a lingual frenectomy procedure. The frenulum of the tongue (or lingual frenulum) is a small fold of mucous membrane extending from the floor of the mouth to the mid-line of the underside of the tongue. In a frenectomy, this is clipped to allow the tongue to move freely.
Problems for the infant with Ankyloglossia may include: poor latch resulting in reflux, colic, and excessive gas; inadequate milk intake, poor weight gain, extended nursing episodes, falling asleep, and early weaning from the breast or refusal to breastfeed at all. This robs the child of bonding opportunities and the natural immunities and health benefits that mothers give their babies through breastfeeding. As an untreated child grows older, there may be a diagnosis of tongue tie, causing problems with speech and eating.
Breastfeeding is a health issue
There can be long term problems when babies cannot feed at the breast, and the American Academy of Pediatrics says that “parents should be aware that exclusive breastfeeding is sufficient to support optimal growth and development for approximately the first 6 months of life and provides continuing protection against diarrhea and respiratory tract infection.” They consider breastfeeding an infant a basic health issue, not a lifestyle choice. Read the AAP’s benefits statement at the end of this article.
Other potential problems for the baby include increased risk of SIDS, developmental abnormalities, dental decay, speech problems, orthodontic problems, esthetic problems, and even future periodontal disease! There is also increased risk of juvenile diabetes and allergies, GI problems, cancers, heart disease and obesity as an adult.
The new mother also receives health benefits as well when her baby properly breastfeeds. Poor latching can result in physical breast pain, cracked or bleeding nipples, infection, plugged ducts, etc. It can also be a stimulus for post-partum depression, disappointment, and feelings of inadequacy, frustration, and guilt. Medical benefits for the mother who breastfeeds include easier weight loss and some cancer immunities.
Laser frenectomy benefits: It cuts with light, not scalpels!
By performing a laser frenectomy rather than a complicated conventional surgery, the benefits to infant and mother are clear. Laser surgery is safe and quick, with no known complications. The cutting is done by laser light energy, not scalpels. There is no need for sedation or an operating room, no allergic or drug reactions, there is virtually no chance of infection, the procedure takes minutes in my office, it significantly reduces the risk of any bleeding, and the infant is returned to mom for immediate feeding. Most importantly, laser surgery is more precise! I have special procedures and protocols for these precious infants that reduce anxiety in child and mother.
American Academy of Pediatrics Policy on Breastfeeding Benefits:
For the baby
Breastfeeding decreases the possibility that your baby will get a variety of infectious diseases, ear infections, diarrhea, etc.
For the mother
Breastfeeding mothers return to their pre-pregnancy weight faster and have a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancer. They also experience less postpartum bleeding, as the hormones that help with breastfeeding also make the uterus contract.
For the family
Breastfeeding facilitates bonding. Fathers and other children can participate by helping the mother with burping and rocking the baby, making sure the mother is eating and drinking enough, and helping with breast pump equipment and bottles.
For the community
Breastfeeding is lean, green, and clean. Breastfed babies are at a lower risk of being obese children. Breastfeeding won’t put a huge dent in your wallet, it saves water, and it doesn’t use energy for manufacturing or pollute the environment with garbage or manufacturing air pollution. There is no worry about the risk of contamination from bacteria or other substances. It is always fresh, at the right temperature, and ready to feed!
If you suspect your child has Ankyloglossia, please call my office today to schedule a consultation, 404-255-9511.
Email me, firstname.lastname@example.org, with your questions or concerns about dental health for children and adults.