Our dentists offer frenectomy services to treat tongue ties and lip ties in infants. This procedure addresses the restricted frenum, also referred to as the thin piece of tissue that secures other muscles, such as the tongue or the upper lip.
What are the symptoms of a tongue tie?
Tongue ties can affect the growth and development of the teeth and jaw, affecting alignment, tongue movement, and speech. In infants the primary concern is a poor latch for breastfeeding, which can result in other issues including:
Difficult intake of adequate milk
Early weaning from the breast
Extended nursing duration
Slow weight gain
Falling asleep during a feed
Unable to develop or sustain a good latch
Unable to hold a pacifier
Poor latching can cause problems for mothers too including difficult breastfeeding, mastitis, anxiety, slow post-delivery weight loss, painful conditions of nipples, and low milk supply or early cessation of lactation.
How can I tell if my baby has a tongue tie?
If your baby is struggling to latch and you suspect a physical impediment to success, look into the baby’s mouth and use your finger to feel for tightness in the tissue under his or her tongue or between the front upper lip and gum.
How is the procedure completed?
First, your baby will be swaddled and a topical anesthetic, such as lidocaine, is applied to the area. The dentist then uses a precise laser to release the tightened or tethered tissue. The whole procedure takes less than 10 minutes and in most instances the baby is able to latch immediately when he or she is returned to you. Your baby may experience some slight swelling for a day or so following the treatment. Also, the dentist will provide advice on how to care for the baby’s mouth and if any exercises or post-surgical care is needed to ensure that the frenum does not reattach or tether again.
What are the benefits of a frenectomy?
Laser frenectomies are extraordinarily precise and quick. There is no need for general anesthesia. Your baby will only have minimal discomfort or swelling and the laser treatment sterilizes the treatment area, reducing the chance of infection. In addition to the benefits of the laser procedure, once the release of the tongue tie is complete, your baby will be more able to latch on to the breast and feed more efficiently. This will improve the baby’s health and well-being as well as the mother’s.
If you have questions about this procedure or suspect that your baby might have a tongue tie, contact us to make an appointment with our doctors for assessment and advice.