You’ve done everything the lactation specialist said you should do, and your newborn baby is still not latching properly. As a parent, you naturally start to worry that you’re making a mistake somehow.
Stop! It may not be something you’re doing at all. It could be an issue with your baby’s mouth.
Most people have a small amount of tissue connecting the lips and tongue to the rest of the oral cavity. However, for some people, predominantly children and infants, this connective tissue (which is called a frenulum) is extra thick or short, restricting movement. But you’re not a pediatric dentist! How can you tell whether your child has this problem? Here are some symptoms to look for that could indicate a lip or tongue tie.
Although you may not notice it when you eat, the tongue plays an important role, mainly in helping you swallow. For infants who have an overly tight or short lingual frenulum, swallowing and breastfeeding can be challenging to say the least. Bottles tend to be easier to achieve and maintain suction, which means tongue-tied infants fed this way may be a little older before they have trouble swallowing and controlling food inside their mouths. In general, if your child is struggling to eat, whether breastfeeding or with solid foods, a tongue tie could be to blame.
Difficulty with Speech
If a child does make it through the early few years of life with an untreated tongue tie, they may experience issues when they start to experiment with certain sounds. The tongue is essential for annunciating words and discernable sounds, but a thick or shortened frenulum can limit the tongue’s mobility and function in speech. Work closely with your pediatrician to determine whether your little one’s speech is impaired or whether they are just a little late in making sounds.
Does your child consistently breathe through their mouth? It could be an indication that they aren’t able to fully bring both lips together. The frenulum on the upper lip may be preventing your child from closing their mouth comfortably and allowing them to breathe through their nose. This is a problem because mouth breathing allows more bacteria to enter the mouth and creates a dryer environment, in which harmful bacteria thrive.
When tension on the upper lip frenulum builds, it can cause the gum tissue to recede or pull away from the teeth. A little bit of recession isn’t necessarily detrimental, but it can lead to more serious infections later in life that eventually cause tooth loss. If you notice that your child has unusually long teeth or not very much gum tissue showing when they smile, they may have a lip tie that needs to be treated.
How a Frenectomy Addresses Lip and Tongue Ties
The frenectomy procedure basically consists of using a gentle laser to sever the tissue that restricts your child’s lips or tongue. This process can usually be completed without anesthetic and involves very little bleeding or discomfort. Within minutes, your child could have the range of motion needed to function more easily.
Whether your little one is still brand-new or a few years old, parenting can be full on unknowns, but you don’t have to do it alone. If you think they could have a lip or tongue tie, don’t hesitate to reach to trained professionals who may be able to help!
About the Practice
Chicago Tongue-Tie Center is a clinic that is specifically designed to help children and parents who struggle with lip or tongue ties. Using the field’s most advanced soft tissue lasers, board-certified pediatric dentists Dr. Justin and Dr. Deric can resolve many of the issues that tongue-tied patients face in a matter of minutes. If you would like to learn more about this procedure, you can request an appointment at Chicago Tongue-Tie Center online or by calling the practice at 312-766-0995.