Tounge and Lip Ties
Smooth breastfeeding is a time for mommy and baby to nurture closeness and a connection. Tongue and Lip Ties can affect your baby at their most vulnerable stage of development.
Infants are born with immature immune systems and need healthy nourishment to get the best start in life. However, some babies have difficulty feeding and will encounter frequent challenges. The source of feeding difficulties can be a restrictive lingual frenum, often called a “tongue-tie”. Tongue-ties and lip ties frequently go hand in hand. Difficulty breastfeeding can also be a time of frustration, pain, and anxiety for a lot of mothers. Many mothers feel guilty and blame themselves. The calm beautiful bonding experience can seem like a cruel and unattainable fantasy. But there is hope for those mothers off to a rocky start with breastfeeding. And most times it can be fixed. Sometimes it just takes an expert caregiver like your physician, lactation specialist, or another mom to help you realize that your baby maybe struggling with a lip or tongue-tie.
A tongue-tie diagnosis is based on feeding symptoms as well as clinical findings. Some tongue-ties are obvious but other tongue-ties are not, like posterior tongue-ties. They are below the skin and require careful examination by a trained professional to detect.
Symptoms of a tongue/lip tied baby include:
- Clicking noises during feeding
- Falling asleep at the breast before fullness
- Coughing or choking on milk
- Frequent release and relatching
- Dissatisfaction after prolonged feeding
- Poor weight gain
- Weight loss
- Frequent and long nursing sessions
- Fussing, fighting, or crying at the breast
- Lip blisters
- Persistent torticollis despite chiropractic therapy
Some symptoms of breastfeeding mothers nursing babies with lip/tongue ties:
- Pain on breastfeeding
- Poor or incomplete milk transfer (breasts feel engorged after breastfeeding)
- Undersupply or oversupply of breast milk
- Mastitis and/or Thrush
- Cracked, sore, or damaged breast nipples
- Plugged ducts
Causes and Solutions
Successful breastfeeding requires good oral movement and rhythmic breathing from your baby. The tongue’s dynamic movement is extremely essential to this success. It should extend over the lower gum ridge and rise up and down. Additionally, the tongue plays a vital role in swallowing during smooth breastfeeding. A tongue-tied baby cannot make the appropriate tongue motions necessary to extend, rise, and swallow forcefully. This has been supported by scientific research and clinical studies*.
A procedure called a Frenectomy releases the restrictive tissue under the tongue. It is a delicate 5-10 minute procedure done in our office that can restore your baby’s ability to nurse. Our office treats newborns to 18 years of age. For babies, no sedation or general anesthesia is needed. Dr. Anderson uses a soft tissue laser to precisely remove the restrictive tissue. This laser creates very little bleeding and disinfects. Your baby can breastfeed immediately after the procedure. In fact, we encourage it!
A follow-up visit one week (or anytime) after the procedure is available at no additional cost.
During an initial consult, Dr. Anderson will evaluate your child for tongue function and appearance. You will be present during the evaluation so that you will be able to see your child’s tongue and lip tie(s) and understand the care process. If a Frenectomy is indicated for a newborn baby, the procedure happens during the same visit so you will not need to make an additional trip. For a child older than 12 months, we ask that you kindly make a subsequent appointment after your child’s initial consultation.