for Tongue-Tied Little Ones
What is a tongue tie?
Tongue tie (ankyloglossia) occurs when the band of tissue below the tongue (lingual frenum) is abnormally thick or restricts range of motion. This condition is developmental, since it arises before birth, and research estimates that between 4-11% of infants have a restricted frenum.
A tongue tie can affect nursing, bottle feeding, and also have a negative impact on growth and development from childhood into adulthood.
What problems occur from having a tongue tie?
A tongue tie can affect breastfeeding in an infant in many different ways, but generally a poor latch leads to inefficient milk transfer and the baby has no choice but to compensate. Often a tongue-tied baby with a restricted tongue will attempt to nurse by chomping or gumming the nipple, popping on and off the breast, and breaking the seal, leading to excess intake of air and a clicking noise when nursing. Mom experiences nipple pain and trauma as well as poor milk transfer which can lead to decreased milk intake, a drop in milk supply, poor breast drainage, feelings of frustration, failure, guilt and shame, and premature weaning.
A tongue-tied adult may have a history of speech therapy, mouth breathing, a high arched palate and narrow jaws, crowded or misaligned teeth, acid reflux, and snoring or sleep apnea.
What is a lip tie?
Lip tie occurs when the tissue attaching the upper lip to the gum tissue (labial frenum) is abnormally thick, tight, or inelastic. If the lip can’t flip up without the frenum attachment blanching (turning white), this reduced range of motion can lead to problems.
What problems occur with a lip tie?
A lip tie can lead to problems with nursing, bottle feeding, eating solids, and increased risk for cavities. During nursing, the upper lip needs to flare out to create a seal on the breast for a good latch. A poor latch can lead to excess air intake and gassiness.
In an older child, a tight frenum can cause pain when parents try to lift the lip to brush the top front teeth and can also trap food against the teeth and lead to dental decay.
What are the benefits?
Benefits usually include better lip and/or tongue function to improve swallowing and/or latching at the breast or bottle, along with better development of the oral cavity and airway. At this point, the parents can then choose how they would like to proceed.
Babies may experience:
- Better milk transfer
- Less gassiness/fussiness
- Longer periods of sleep
- Better weight gain
Moms may experience:
- Reduced nipple pain/cracking/bleeding
- More efficient feedings
- Better breast drainage/reduction in clogged ducts or mastisis
BENEFITS OF LASER FRENECTOMY
- The laser “vaporizes” rather than cuts the tissue
- Very little discomfort is experienced
- There is almost no bleeding
- Less risk of infection
- Very quick healing time as the laser stimulates bio-regeneration and healing
At Grandview Center for Dentistry, Dr. Lervick uses the LightScalpel CO2 laser as her tool of choice.
Dr. Bridget Lervick
Dr. Bridget Lervick’s priority is always the health and comfort of her patients, from infants to adults. She brings her experience as a mother to her work and after a simple laser procedure changed her breastfeeding relationship with her daughter Hannah in 2016, she became passionate about learning how to help other moms so they didn’t have to suffer the same symptoms.
She has completed advanced training related to lip and tongue ties sleep disordered breathing, and partners with other infant care specialists (chiropractors, craniosacral therapists, myofunctional therapists, lactation consultants) for a comprehensive, compassionate, conservative approach to help our patients get the best results possible. Dr. Lervick would love to partner with your family if you are having difficulties with nursing, feeding, or speech difficulties.