Infant tongue and lip tie is a congenital condition that affects nearly 5% of infants and their mothers. This condition, which is caused by a short or tight frenulum under the tongue or in the upper lip, restricts the movement of the tongue and lips making breastfeeding and bottle-feeding difficult, and can cause future problems in speech development and overall oral health. Tongue and lip tie is often discovered when mothers are having difficulty breastfeeding. Unfortunately this problem is often confusing and mothers don’t know where to turn for help.
Dr. Shawn Hanway, Board Certified Pediatric Dentist, is trained in and passionate about correcting tongue and lip tie. She is able to perform a frenectomy with a soft-tissue laser in office – a procedure that takes between 2-3 minutes – and provide you with all the information and direction you need to help your infant heal quickly and continue to thrive.
Do you think your child is tongue or lip tied? Refer to this checklist and call our office for a consultation.
Understanding a Frenectomy
Some children are born with shortened or tight frenulums. This soft tissue connects the tongue to the lower jaw and the upper lip to the gums. When the tissue is tight it restricts the range of motion which can make latching extremely difficult. The inability to eat can cause the child to be rightfully fussy and may impact their ability to thrive. It also causes extreme pain and discomfort for nursing mothers. By performing a frenectomy, your pediatric dentist can release the tension and free the range of motion enabling your child to re-learn a correct latch, successfully eat, and grow.
To perform this procedure Dr. Shawn will first evaluate the severity of your child’s tongue or lip tie. Using adequate lighting and optimal positioning, she will then precisely remove the tissue that is restricting your child’s tongue and lips. This soft-tissue laser minimizes bleeding, inflammation, and postoperative discomfort, and due to the laser’s precision can be performed in between 2-3 minutes. Immediately after the procedure your baby will be brought to you to nurse and soothe in a quiet, private room. Please feel free to stay as long as you need to.
For 24 to 48 hours after the frenectomy your child will experience some discomfort. If breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact do not calm them, appropriately dosed Tylenol can be used to relieve pain.
After the Frenectomy
In order to ensure that the procedure is a success, it is important for parents to follow all post-operative care instructions. Precise and quick stretches will be necessary to prevent the wound from healing incorrectly and the frenulum from reattaching. Dr. Shawn will explain these stretches to you before and after the procedure. Please don’t hesitate to call the office and refer to this information sheet if you have any questions about post-operative care.
It may take some time for your child to re-learn how to latch after they have healed. Utilizing the knowledge of a lactation consultant can be extremely helpful during this time. It generally takes a few weeks for a child to heal completely from a frenectomy, and a post-procedure check-up will be scheduled one week after the frenectomy is performed. Once again, don’t hesitate to call with concerns and questions, we are happy to help in any way we can.
For more information about the tongue and lip tie procedure, please see this information sheet.
Here is a video showing an actual infant lip and tongue tie surgery.