As you look down at your baby’s plump, round face, you’re filled with feelings of concern. They’ve had a lot of problems feeding lately—they just can’t seem to get a good grip on the nipple, and the entire experience is just very uncomfortable and frustrating for the both of you. Plus, their cries seem to be somewhat stifled, as if they can’t move their mouth properly. If these symptoms sound familiar to you, then your baby may be suffering from a lip tie or tongue tie, which is the result of a short or thickened frenulum. This can present potentially serious problems for a child, but fortunately, your dentist can provide a simple solution using a quick procedure called a frenectomy.
Why would my child need a frenectomy?
A frenulum is a small piece of tissue that helps different parts of your body move properly, and you actually have 3 of them in your mouth: 1 on each lip that connects them to the gums, and 1 underneath the tongue. Sometimes, these frenulums can be so short or thick that they inhibit the movement of the tongue or lips, which in infants, can cause a multitude of problems:
- Difficulty feeding (both breast and bottle feeding)
- Difficulty breathing
- Inhibited oral development
A baby with this problem will not be able to fully latch onto a nipple with their mouth, which can cause them to bite down, and as you can imagine, this can be very painful if you’re breastfeeding. These feeding issues can actually lead a baby to become malnourished, which can cause a wide variety of developmental issues over time.
If you notice that your baby’s tongue or lips seem to be “tethered” in place and they are having these problems, you should visit a children’s dentist as soon as you can for treatment.
How a frenectomy works
A frenectomy is a minor surgical procedure where a dentist simply snips the frenulum in order to free-up the lips or tongue. In the past, it would normally be performed using surgical scissors and sutures, which as you can imagine, was not a very nice experience that typically led to both crying and bleeding.
However, thanks to advances in dental technology, your dentist can now use a highly-precise laser to painlessly cut the frenulum in just a few minutes. The results are instant, there will be little to no bleeding, and your baby should be able to use their mouth more comfortably almost instantly.
Thanks to a short trip to your children’s dentist, your baby will be able to feed normally, breathe contentedly, and you’ll always be able to look down at their little face and smile.
About the Author
Dr. Paige Prather is a general, restorative, and children’s dentist based in Nashville, TN. She currently practices at P.S. Smiles, and if you believe that your baby could benefit from a quick and painless frenectomy, she can be contacted through her website.