October 6, 2022
Nursing hasn’t been easy for your and your little one. Perhaps you’ve even seen a lactation consultant or talk to your pediatrician for guidance. They tell you that your baby, who is now becoming a toddler, may have a lip tie but don’t elaborate very much. You naturally have questions about exactly what a lip tie is, how it affects your toddler, and how the problem can be fixed. In this post, you can get the answers you seek and know what to do moving forward.
What Is a Lip Tie?
In the womb, every baby has a frenulum or piece of tissue that connects the upper lip to the gums. However, most lose this excess tissue before birth, giving them mobility and function of their upper lip. Those who retain the frenulum under the upper lip have what is commonly called a lip tie and can struggle with several oral functions.
Although a lip tie must be diagnosed by a qualified pediatric dentist in order to be treated, you can tell if your baby has a lip tie if they exhibit the following symptoms:
- Difficulty latching, sore nipples, clicking noises while they nurse.
- Frequent feedings, otherwise known as cluster feedings.
- Poor weight gain
- Choking on or spitting up milk
How Does a Lip Tie Affect Babies and Toddlers?
In addition to interfering with a baby’s ability to breastfeed, a lip tie can have other negative effects later in life, including pickiness with certain types of foods. With this impediment, your child may not be able to move and manipulate bites of food within their mouth. As a result, they can gag on certain textures or foods. Your child may also find it difficult to remove all food from a spoon because of a tongue tie.
As their teeth grow in, children with a lip tie may experience more tooth decay and gum recession than those without one. The two front teeth may also have a significant gap between them if the frenulum not only connects to the gums but also to the palate. Consequently, bits of food, bacteria, and plaque can build up in this area, increasing the risk of cavities.
How Is a Lip Tie Corrected?
Lip ties need to be treated to give infants and toddlers necessary oral functions, and they are addressed in a procedure called a frenectomy. Basically, the dentist severs the excess tissue, freeing the upper lip. More modern offices take advantage of innovative technology and use a soft tissue laser to perform this procedure. As a result, the baby should have very little discomfort and bleeding and should see almost instantaneous improvement.
If you think your baby may have a lip tie, you need to schedule a consultation with a pediatric dentist to have it officially diagnosed and treated in the best way possible with a soft tissue laser. Then, you and your little one can have a better nursing experience and healthier oral function!
About the Author
As a devoted mother and pediatric dentist, Dr. Maggie Davis has seen time and time again how tongue and lip ties negatively impact little ones and their parents. Her own child had this issue, prompting her to seek advanced training in laser frenectomies. In addition to being a Diplomate in the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, she is also certified by the American Board of Laser Surgery for pediatric tongue and lip tie treatment. To ask Dr. Davis questions about your child’s lip tie, you can schedule a consultation at the Florida Tongue Tie Institute in Palm Harbor online or call the office at 727-786-7551.
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