Tongue and Lip Tie Releases

Tongue and Lip Tie Releases in Epsom

What is a tongue tie? What is a lip tie?

A tongue tie (ankyloglossia) is a relatively common birth defect where a newborn’s tongue is partially or fully attached to the floor of the mouth. A lip tie is when the upper lip is attached to the upper jaw gum. Normally during pregnancy, the tongue starts off attached to the floor of the mouth. Over the months, the attachment partially disappears gradually from the tip of the tongue toward the base of the tongue. When this doesn’t happen or only partially happens, the tongue can’t reach beyond the ridge of the lower gum and touch the roof of the mouth. When the baby tries to do either, the tongue becomes heart shaped.

Tongue Ties, Lip Ties and Breastfeeding

Without proper function of the tongue or lip, successful breastfeeding becomes an issue. Successful breastfeeding requires a strong and effective latch. If the tongue is unable to reach the roof of the mouth, and the upper lip is unable to spread wide over the nipple, the baby won’t be able to hang on to the nipple and draw milk properly.

In addition to these difficulties, poor latch and ineffective breastfeeding can have other ramifications for both baby and mom.

For baby, a poor latch during breastfeeding can lead to:

  • Colic and excessive fussiness;
  • Acid reflux;
  • Inability to hold a pacifier;
  • Early weaning;
  • Falling asleep on the breast; and,
  • Inadequate milk intake, which can, in turn, result in
    • Poor weight gain or failure to thrive and
    • Needing to nurse longer.

When a baby’s fussy or not eating well, this can have a profound effect on new mothers who are also dealing with their own fatigue, post-pregnancy/delivery recovery, hormone fluctuations and the stress of expectations and not knowing what to do.

Breastfeeding mothers may experience:

  • Difficulty or inability to breastfeed;
  • Painful compression of the nipples;
  • Nipple vasospasm or narrowing of the blood vessels in the breast that can lead to whitening of the tissues from lack of blood and pain
  • Engorgement, thrush, Mastitis (inflammation of the gum tissue)
  • Bleeding, cracked and flattened nipples
  • Slow weight loss from pregnancy since breastfeeding triggers the body to drop the pregnancy weight
  • Low milk supply due to baby not drawing enough milk to encourage production
  • Early cessation of lactation
  • Anxiety, stress and fatigue from the longer feedings, ongoing efforts
  • Post-partum depression (twice as likely to develop by second month post-delivery)
  • Feelings of guilt

Infants who don’t breastfeed are at increased risk for:

  • Reduced immunity to certain diseases without the antibodies from mother’s milk
  • Increased risk of juvenile type diabetes, allergies
  • GI problems, certain cancers
  • Increased risk of heart disease and obesity as adult
  • Orthodontic problems and facial development because muscles and mouth structures don’t learn to suck properly
  • Increased risk of dental decay
  • Speech impediments
  • Increased risk of SIDS

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Lip tie effects on infants

In addition to the effect of a tongue tie on infants, lip ties on their own can cause complications with breastfeeding and, when added to a tongue tie, can make breastfeeding virtually impossible. Lip ties will result in:

  • Inability to sustain a latch with increased risk of prior listed tongue-tie problems;
  • Large gaps between front teeth and relapse after orthodontic care;
  • Painful latch once upper front teeth erupt when nursing;
  • Dental decay in upper teeth when still nursing;
  • Speech/pronunciation problems;
  • Aesthetic issues; and,
  • Excessive bleeding if it is injured or cut.

A lip tie that isn’t treated early can result in the following in adults:

  • Periodontal disease because the upper central teeth can’t be cleaned properly;
  • Unaesthetic smile lines; and,
  • Poor oral hygiene.

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Advantages of using laser surgery

Alpers Dental has been using laser surgery for treating tongue and lip ties on infants. Laser surgery has several benefits for your baby. First, there is no need for sedation or anesthetic. Second, the nature of laser treatment means there’s virtually no chance of infection, the procedure is completed in two to three minutes, and ensures that there is minimal to no swelling, pain or discomfort afterwards. Third, the laser cauterizes as it goes minimizing bleeding. Since 2011, Alpers Dental has successfully performed tongue and lip tie releases on hundreds of babies and newborns on the request and recommendation of lactation consultants, midwives and general practitioners who are concerned about the effect on successful breastfeeding. Alpers Dental has helped babies and moms enjoy the experience and life-long benefits of breastfeeding. If there are no breastfeeding issues associated with the tongue or lip tie, parents may wish to wait until the child is five or six for the tie release procedure to see whether or not the ties actually affected the development of speech at all.

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Tongue and Lip Tie Releases January 28, 2015