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Feeding your baby is one of the most essential and rewarding parts of parenting. It can also be exhausting and frustrating when problems arise. Feeding challenges can cause health problems for infants– and anxiety and sleep deprivation for parents. Tongue and lip ties can also cause speech and oral health problems in older kids. But how do you know if your baby has a tongue or lip tie? And how can your family pediatrician help?
What Is a Tongue Tie? What Is a Lip Tie?
Tongue and lip ties relate to oral tissue that limits your mouth’s ability to move. A frenum is a piece of tissue that connects one part of your mouth to another. When a frenum is too short, tight, or long, it can restrict movement and cause other problems.
- A tongue tie occurs when the frenum connecting the tongue to the bottom of the mouth is too short or tight.
- A lip tie is when the frenum connecting the top or bottom lip to the gums extends too far down onto the gums.
- A frenectomy is an oral surgery that removes or reduces the frenum to improve movement. Pediatricians, dentists, oral surgeons, and other specialists routinely perform frenectomies.
How Do I Know If My Baby Has a Tongue or Lip Tie?
Breastfeeding challenges are one of the primary indicators of a tongue or lip tie in infants. Signs your infant may have a tongue tie include:
- Clicking sounds while nursing
- Frustration when nursing or bottle feeding
- Trouble latching at the breast
- Frequent feedings lead to exhaustion for the mother and baby
- Digestive issues, including reflux
- Sleep problems
An infant tongue tie can also cause problems for nursing moms, including:
- Lower milk supply
- Sore nipples
- Stress, anxiety, and bonding concerns
What Are Signs of Tongue Ties in Older Children?
- Speech problems, including difficulty making specific letter sounds like T, D, L and Th.
- Trouble eating solid foods
- Dental issues, including gaps, as your child’s teeth come in
- Difficulty moving the tongue and lifting to the roof of the mouth
- Inability to stick the tongue past the lower lip
Why Is Diagnosing and Treating Tongue and Lip Ties So Important?
Tongue and lip ties can cause ongoing feeding, speech, and oral health problems. Early identification and treatment can help prevent future health problems, including:
- Feeding problems in infants
- Speech problems in older children
- Restricted movement of the tongue
- Snoring and mouth breathing
- Dental problems related to lip ties, including gaps between the top front teeth and damage caused by gum movement.
How Can My Pediatrician Help With Tongue and Lip Ties?
See your pediatrician if your baby struggles to nurse or take a bottle. We’ll rule out other possibilities that can interfere with breastfeeding, including nasal obstruction and reflux. We usually recommend a frenectomy if we identify a tongue or lip tie. A laser or surgical frenectomy is a simple procedure that can be performed in your pediatrician’s office. It usually involves little or no pain or discomfort for your child. Healing time is minimal, especially for infants. While healing may take a little longer for older children, we rarely see significant complications. We’ll refer you to a specialist if the problem requires further intervention. At Loudoun Pediatric Associates, we understand the importance of bonding between parent and child. Feeding, whether by breast or bottle, is an essential part of creating that bond. We aim to set new parents up for success, ensuring their babies can feed successfully. Frenectomies are simple in-office procedures, often bringing much-needed relief to parents and babies.