If you or your child experiences some of the following symptoms, it could be because they have a lip- or tongue-tie:
- Nursing difficulties (mom may experience pain with nursing)
- Failure to gain weight
- Speech difficulties and/or speech delay
- Slow and very picky eating
- Restless sleep
- Dental issues
- Attention and hyperactivity issues as a result of poor sleep quality
To make a proper diagnosis, the symptoms and functional issues are more important than the appearance of a lip or tongue tie.
What is a lip-tie or tongue-tie?
Lip-ties and tongue-ties are fairly common physical impairments affecting the mouth. A lip-tie is when the upper lip cannot curl or move normally. While a tongue-tie, also known as ankyloglossia, limits the use and movement of the tongue. The connective tissue that provides proper movement of the lips and tongue is called the frenulum. There are several places in the body where frenum is located. However, in the mouth there are two key locations: between the lip and the upper gum and another connects under the tongue to the bottom of the mouth. During development in the womb, the frenum will thin and recede, to allow proper movement of the mouth, lips, and tongue. For some people, the frenum does not develop correctly and may remain thick, or especially tight, thus restricting movement of the lips, tongue, and mouth. This can cause many of the symptoms listed above.
How is my child’s feeding affected by a tongue-tie?
There are various ways a child’s eating habits will be influenced by a tongue-tie. A young infant may experience difficulty nursing or taking a bottle. They can struggle with latching and therefore may be unable to receive enough milk or formula, which can result in being underweight or failing to thrive. These children will often eat slowly and can be fussy about the food they eat, especially certain textures of food. With solid food, a child may choke, gag, or spit food, or refuse to transition from milk/formula to solid food, altogether. The most difficult food textures for a person struggling with tongue-tie are purees, mashed potatoes, meat, and other soft foods. Although, sometimes chewy or hard foods can be difficult for them to eat as well.
How is my child’s speech affected by tongue-tie?
A tongue-tie may or may not affect a child’s speech. Some children are able to adapt to their tongue being restricted and have little speech problems while other children could experience a lisp, mumble, speak slowly or have delayed speech. A speech therapist should be consulted if you have difficulty understanding your child when they talk.
What can be done to correct a lip-tie or tongue-tie condition?
At the Children’s Dental Center, Dr. Edwards and her professional team can perform a frenectomy to release a lip- or tongue-tie. A frenectomy will correct the irregular frenum and provide the child or adult with the ability to move their lips and/or tongue in a healthy and proper functioning manner.
How is a frenectomy performed?
Dr. Edwards uses an advanced, state-of-the-art CO2 laser to release a lip or tongue tie. Also known as a frenectomy, a release may be performed with minimal pain, bleeding or discomfort. The procedure can be done on newborn babies just days old, children or on adults. In as little as 3-5 minutes (the actual procedure only takes about 30 seconds), you or your child could be relieved of daily struggles with eating, talking and/or sleeping.
If required, numbing jelly will be put on the area to minimize any potential for discomfort. Sedation is not needed and most children are calmed quickly upon being picked up after the procedure is over. If an older child is struggling with anxiety, laughing gas can be given in addition to the numbing jelly. Recovery is usually complete in a couple of days.
While a tongue-tie may not be the reason every child is experiencing eating or speech problems, it can be a strong possibility that is worth looking into. Dr. Edward’s can provide a thorough examination and listen to your concerns to help determine the best treatment plan. If you are concerned you or your child may have a lip- or tongue-tie, please don’t hesitate to contact the Children’s Dental Center for a consultation at 317-854-6027.
Click here for more information on frenulectomies.