Nearly 10% of people have a lip or tongue tie. This condition is formed during early fetal development and can restrict the movement of the tongue. A simple surgical procedure called a frenectomy is used to correct a tongue or lip tie.
The earliest signs of a tongue or lip tie is a breastfed infant who has trouble feeding. The latch is ineffective due to the lip being unable to lift all the way, and drawing out the milk is problematic due to the restricted movement of the tongue. Bottle-fed infants who have a tongue tie can also experience ineffective feeding as well, although it is not as common. Fussiness and poor weight gain may be signs of ineffective feeding.
Dental development and speech can be affected from an untreated tongue or lip tie. An undeveloped jaw structure can also occur due to the tongue’s inability to rest in its proper position. Breathing issues and the probability of a child requiring braces is also common. Most of the time, a frenectomy procedure offers a safe and recommended treatment for infants, which can correct the present condition and prevent future complications.
A frenectomy is a simple, quick, and minimally invasive procedure in which a laser is used to release the tie. After the procedure, the lip and tongue can move freely and normally. Infants undergoing the procedure will not normally receive anesthetic, to allow for feeding immediately following the procedure. For older patients, numbing medication is used.
The affected area will look white and gray after treatment, which is a normal part of healing. Older patients will be provided with stretching exercises. Infants who are treated for a tongue tie will require the parent or caregiver to gently massage the affected area with a clean finger before every feeding for the following week or two. The infant’s latch will need to be retrained to a flipped-out position while feeding.
If you experience anything unusual following the frenectomy procedure, such as prolonged bleeding or signs of infection, please give our office a call. We will make every effort to see you promptly.
If you or your child have a tongue or lip tie, we encourage you to call Boulder Oral Surgery for a personalized consultation and treatment plan from Dr. Nedbalski or Dr. Chai. We treat patients of all ages with the highest standard of care.