Lip & Tongue Tie Treatment
Tongue/Lip Tie Story
Dr. Bear has a strong passion for helping moms who are struggling with properly breastfeeding their infants due to oral/myofunctional challenges. Choosing to further study infant tongue/lip tie release was a personal decision for him. When his son was born, his wife struggled with breastfeeding and eventually gave up on it altogether, despite excellent support from their OB, pediatrician, and lactation consultants. His son continued to struggle with feeding and general weight gain until he was nearly two years old. On the constant search for answers, Dr. Bear finished an advanced education training in frenectomies involving tethered oral tissues (TOTS). That’s when he was finally able to correctly diagnose his son with a deep posterior tongue tie. The procedure was monumental for both the toddler and the entire family. Later on, he even treated his daughter at birth!
In his pursuit to support mothers who are breastfeeding, Dr. Bear has recognized that countless infants/children and even adults are affected by the same painful restrictions. That’s why he provides essential lip and tongue tie treatment to McKinney, TX patients of all ages.
Why Choose Bear Pediatric Dentistry
for Lip & Tongue-Tie Treatment?
Fast & Painless
Warm and Friendly
Gentle & Effective Treatment for Children & Moms
Lip-ties and tongue-ties (collectively known as tethered oral tissues) involve these parts of the mouth being restricted in movement because they are attached to a short or tough frenulum, which is a small band of oral tissue. These issues can make it extremely difficult for a child to use their mouth, causing things like speaking, eating, and even breathing to be frustrating and painful. They are especially troublesome for infants, as tethered oral tissues can prevent them from feeding. In the long term, they can hamper the development of the teeth and jaws, creating problems that will require extensive orthodontic care (or even surgery) to fix.
What Kinds of Challenges
Occur with a
Tongue or Lip-Tie?
A tongue tie (also known as ankyloglossia) is when the tongue’s movement is considerably restricted due to its adherence to the floor of the patient’s mouth. This is caused by a frenum that is attached too closely to the tongue’s tip and/or is abnormally short. A lip tie occurs when the upper lip is attached to the upper gum. Here are some problems that this quirk can cause:
- The inability to flange the maxillary lip upward when breastfeeding, which negatively impacts the infant’s ability to latch and create a solid seal
- Cracked and generally painful nipples for breastfeeding mothers
- Difficulty with opening the mouth wide enough to eat and speak properly
- Constant pain/clicking in the jaw
- The inability to speak clearly when talking in a loud, fast, or soft manner
- An increased risk of cavities
- Struggling to brush and floss properly
- Noticeable spaces forming between the upper front teeth
- An increased risk for gum inflammation/gum recession, which can result in the need for gum surgery later down the road
- Negative impact on social situations, such as kissing or licking ice cream
- Struggles with keeping a denture properly seated for elderly patients
A frenotomy or frenectomy is a procedure that consists of releasing the frenum under the upper lip or tongue, allowing for a much wider range of comfortable motion. This procedure can benefit infants, children, and adults regarding all sorts of activities, including breastfeeding, bottle sucking, speech, digestive issues, a clear airway, periodontal (gum) health, proper spacing between the teeth, and more.
Does My Child Have a Tongue or Lip Tie?
Children can be born with a tongue-tie, a lip-tie, or a combination of these conditions. Making the decision to breastfeed is a very personal matter; it’s also one that elicits strong opinions and emotions on both sides. The process can be really challenging for some mothers! Many associated concerns can generally be improved by a simple release that’s performed with a soft tissue laser.
Dr. Bear will schedule the child and parent(s) for an in-depth consultation first. He’ll only recommend the procedure when it’s appropriate, the problem has been clearly identified, and we are reasonably certain that it will be beneficial to the baby and the parents.
Treating the lip and/or tongue may only fix part of the problem, which is why we encourage mothers to have a supportive team in place after the procedure. These specialists may include (but are not limited to) a pediatrician, lactation consultants, feeding/speech therapists (SLP), craniosacral therapists, and chiropractors. Our team is happy to provide referrals if needed.
How Does a Laser Frenectomy Work?
Treating a tongue or lip tie with a soft tissue laser is a simple procedure that can be performed in the dental office and often without anesthesia. The positive changes for breastfeeding infants are often immediate, and the procedure itself takes mere minutes.
Unlike a traditional scalpel, we do not “cut” with a soft tissue laser. Instead, the tissue is safely vaporized with light energy. It tackles the delicate tissue with outstanding precision and accuracy, creating little to no bleeding and only minimal post-operative discomfort. The laser also sterilizes instantly, so there is virtually no risk of infection. The final result is beautiful, healthy tissue and a minimal chance of relapse.
Post-Op Care After
After the procedure is done, we will provide directions on how to properly care for and cleanse the treated area. Stretching exercises will be prescribed. In the case of infants, nursing can be performed immediately after the frenectomy in the dental office! We highly recommend following up with your baby’s healthcare providers or therapists.