Breastfeeding is ideal for an infant’s health and dental development. Yet try as they might, some children have trouble feeding properly.
What stops them? A condition formally known as ankyloglossia, in which the frenulum – the thin bit of tissue that connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth – is too short, restricting movement.
More commonly known as tongue-tie, this condition affects nearly 4% of all infants and can make breastfeeding difficult for mother and child alike. A related condition, lip-tie – in which the tissue attaching the upper lip just above the upper front teeth is too short – can likewise interfere with feeding.
Both also can be corrected by a procedure called frenectomy. It’s a quick and simple procedure in which we remove the frenulum with a laser. No anesthetic is needed, and the results are better than with conventional surgery. There’s minimal bleeding and a lower risk of relapse.
Of course, not all cases of tongue- or lip-tie necessarily need to be addressed surgically. A minor tie may cause no problems at all. But if your baby is losing weight by not getting enough to eat – or if nursing is uncomfortable for the mother – tongue/lip release surgery may be something to look into.
Other common symptoms of a problematic tongue- or lip-tie include
- Poor latch.
- Slides off nipple or falls asleep while trying to latch.
- Colic symptoms.
- Reflux symptoms.
- Continuous feedings.
- Gumming the nipple.
- Unable to take a pacifier or bottle.
- Creased, cracked, bruised, blistered or bleeding nipples.
If you have concerns about tongue- or lip-tie, contact us for a consultation. We’d be happy to speak with you.