Laser Frenectomy for Lip and Tongue Ties
Tongue and lip ties are conditions that can prevent proper nursing in infants. The tongue and lip ideally should move freely. The tongue controls food as it is gathered in, and moves in a rolling motion against the palate to create the swallowing motion. In tongue-ties the tip of the tongue is connected to the floor of the mouth and restricts the normal movements of the tongue. The infant’s tongue cannot reach out far enough to latch onto the mother’s breast. If the infant cannot extend the middle and back of the tongue up against the nipple and press against the roof of the mouth, the milk will not be expressed. The infant that cannot latch correctly may swallow air instead of milk, leading to increased gas and abdominal distension and develop clicking sounds, belching and colic symptoms. In addition, poor latching onto the nipple and sucking inadequate amounts of milk can lead to extremely short nursing periods, thus failure in gaining weight. The mother is also affected by the infant gumming the nipple, causing severe pain and denuding of the nipple. This leads to infected nipples, mastitis and fungus infections.
Other symptoms from the infant: reflux symptoms, inability to hold a pacifier, and short sleep episodes with feedings every 2-3 hours. Other symptoms that mothers may experience: creased, flattened or blanched nipples after nursing, cracked, bruised, blistered, or bleeding nipples, severe pain when the infant attempts to latch, poor or incomplete breast drainage, infected nipples or breasts, plugged ducts, or nipple thrush.
There are myths about tongue and lip ties that they will self-correct. This is false. Failure to correct this condition can lead to poor developmental growth, including mouth breathing, digestive problems, dental caries, speech abnormalities and orthodontic malocclusion. The idea that releasing of tongue and lip tie procedures need to be done in a surgical arena is another myth. The use of laser dentistry has allowed practitioners to treat tongue and lip ties without the need for the surgical setting and be completed quickly with minimal discomfort.