How Tongue-Tie Affects Babies, Nursing Moms, and Children

Tongue-tie, or “ankyloglossia,” is a condition in which soft tissue connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth in a way that restricts the tongue and causes various challenges. Among newborn babies, difficulty breastfeeding is often caused by tongue-tie. A frenectomy is a very simple, quick, and virtually painless solution when a baby is still very young.

If a child with tongue-tie isn’t treated early, additional problems continue as the child grows. This common reality is one of the best reasons to go ahead and have a needed frenectomy while a baby is still very small or, if not then, as early as possible.

Signs that a Baby Has Tongue-Tie

Approximately 4% to 11% of newborn babies are born with tongue-tie, and it is estimated that about half have difficulty feeding as a result. Sometimes the problem is that the frenulum is connected toward the tip of the tongue. This is apparent when an extended tongue looks like a heart or looks like it’s forked.

Tongue-tie can make it difficult for a baby to latch on to the breast. As a result, the baby will feed longer in order to receive adequate sustenance, causing the mother to experience more pain.

The following are more symptoms that could indicate that a baby has tongue-tie and would benefit from a frenectomy:

  • Low weight
  • Impaired tongue mobility
  • Problems swallowing
  • Pain
  • Difficulty licking lips
  • Reflux
  • Vomiting
  • Colic
  • Gassy

Experiences of Mothers Breastfeeding a Tongue-Tie Baby

Being the mother of a newborn has its challenges; and complications of having a tongue-tie baby can create a myriad of problems related to breastfeeding. Struggles experienced by nursing mothers with tongue-tie babies include the following:

  • Bleeding, damaged, or distorted nipples
  • Blocked ducts
  • Mastitis
  • Severe pain when the baby is latching or losing latch
  • A sense of failure
  • Depression
  • Poor bonding between the mother and baby
  • Depression
  • Poor bonding between the mother and baby

Difficulties Experienced by Children with Tongue-Tie

As children with untreated tongue-tie grow up, articulation of certain sounds can affect speech. The “n,” “d,” and “t” sounds are especially difficult. Various mechanical issues can cause children embarrassment. For example, tongue-tie makes it difficult to lick the lips or lick an ice cream cone. The fact that they can’t stick out their tongue is a common social issue reported by children. Kids with tongue-tie are often unable to play wind instruments. Because of tongue restriction, kids can’t wipe their teeth with their tongue, as a result, it’s more difficult to maintain good oral health and clean-looking teeth.

Some symptoms of ankyloglossia are painful for children. The frenulum can get caught between the lower central incisor teeth, which causes cuts under the tongue. It may be painful or impossible to wear a retainer on the lower teeth because of tongue-tie.

Fortunately, tongue-tie can be surgically corrected at any age.

Contact the Experts at Gep TOTs Dental Group

The highly qualified team at Gep TOTs Dental Group specializes in diagnosing and treating babies and children with tongue-tie and other types of tethered oral tissues (TOTs). To correct the condition quickly and with minimal discomfort to the child, we offer dental laser treatment. Call us at (647) 492-7059 today to learn more or to schedule an appointment.

Tongue-tie and lip-tie are conditions that affect newborn babies and, if not corrected, also impact the person throughout life. Gep TOTs Dental Group offers tongue-tie treatments using dental lasers. The benefits of laser tongue-tie and lip-tie treatments include faster healing times and reduced post-operative pain. More about tongue-tie follows as well as some tips on post-procedure care of laser frenectomies.

What is Tongue-Tie?

The medical term for tongue-tie is “ankyloglossia,” and it is restriction of the tongue due to an abnormally short frenum or a frenum attached too close to the top of the tongue. Normal tongue function is not possible, and, as a result, tongue-tie causes a range of problems.

Newborns are unable to latch onto their mother’s breast to feed. A baby can fail to thrive due to the hindrances caused by tongue-tie. The following are more of the symptoms of tongue-tie at various ages:

  • The lower jaws protrude
  • Poor dental health, such as a tendency to have inflamed gums
  • Heightened risk of dental decay
  • Jaw pain
  • The jaws make a clicking sound
  • Unable to speak clearly if talking rapidly, loudly, or softly.
  • Speech and eating habits are affected by an inability to widely open the mouth
  • Difficulties flossing and brushing
  • Because the maxillary frenum is prominent and low, it suffers repeated trauma
  • When the elderly have dentures, tongue-tie makes keeping the dentures in place difficult

Benefits of a Laser Frenotomy for Newborns

Breastfeeding is the healthiest choice for babies, but tongue-tie creates complications. The following are benefits of having a laser frenotomy for a newborn:

  • The pain of breastfeeding is relieved, making it possible to enjoy restored health to the nipples and breasts.
  • Breastfeeding is more successful.
  • Milk production is stimulated as a result of the baby being able to latch on and receive nourishment.
  • The baby is able to feed properly and grow at a normal pace, rather than getting behind on the growing curve.
  • The bond between mother and baby is strengthened.
  • The baby will have the benefit of avoiding numerous problems, including improper tooth spacing, social stigma, speech impairments, and dental caries, better known as cavities.

Post-Operative Care following a Laser Frenotomy/Frenectomy

Once a laser frenotomy has been performed, active wound management is important. Parents should be playful to offset the discomfort the child will feel. Below are a few examples of the many tips for stretching exercises:

  • Forceful or prolonged exercises are not recommended.
  • Quick, precise movements are most effective during stretching exercises.
  • Remember that a small amount of bleeding, also known as “spotting,” is normal during exercises, particularly in the first few days.
  • Prevent reattachment of the tissues in the mouth with frequent, not forceful, stretching.
  • For best results, proper active wound management is necessary.

Schedule a Laser Frenotomy at Gep TOTS Dental Group

Tongue-tie and lip-tie are conditions that involve tethered oral tissues (TOTs) or the frenulum. Our specialists at Gep TOTs Dental Group recommend scheduling a check-up as soon as possible or when suggested by your pediatrician or doctor. The earlier a laser frenotomy is performed, the easier it is on the patient. We are located at Woodbridge Kids Dentistry & Orthodontics in Renaissance Commercial Plaza, 8099 Weston Rd., Unit 23, in Vaughan, ON. Call us today at (647) 492-7059.

The frenum, aka frenulum, is tissue that connects the tongue, lips, and cheeks to the gum area of your mouth. The “lingual frenum” connects the tongue to the floor of your mouth. Another frenum attaches the gums to the upper lip just above the two front teeth, and it is called the “maxillary labial frenum.” You may be able to feel it when you move your tongue between your upper lip and your gums. If the frenum under the tongue or under the upper lip restricts movement, the result is tongue-tie or lip-tie.

Neither the frenum under your tongue nor under your upper lip has a distinct purpose, and there is no loss of function to remove these tethered oral tissues (TOTs). Anterior tongue-tie, posterior tongue-tie, and lip-tie are among the reasons a frenum might need to be removed, in which case a procedure called a “frenectomy” is performed. Below, learn more about the procedure plus reasons babies and older children have a frenectomy.

What is a Frenectomy?

A frenectomy, also known as a frenulectomy, is a common outpatient surgical procedure in the mouth performed mostly on infants and children but sometimes on adults. During a frenectomy, the frenum is removed or clipped. Dental laser treatment is an option for patients with anterior tongue-tie, posterior tongue-tie, lip-tie, and for combination lip/tongue-tie.

What is Tongue-Tie?

When the frenulum under the tongue is unusually short or connects under the front of the tongue, mobility of the tongue is hindered. This condition is called “ankyloglossia,” better known as “tongue-tie” when it affects a baby’s ability to feed and a child’s or adult’s ability to speak and use the tongue in normal ways.

Signs a Baby Has Tongue-Tie

Not all physicians choose to recognize that tongue-tie can interfere with a newborn baby’s ability to feed properly, yet it is a common problem. A nursing mother might notice one or more of the following issues, any of which may be caused by tongue-tie:

  • Your baby has difficulty attaching or staying attached to the breast.
  • When feeding, your baby makes clicking sounds.
  • Your baby isn’t getting a proper amount of nourishment.
  • Your baby’s tongue looks heart-shaped when he sticks it out.
  • Your baby feeds for long periods of time with short breaks between, leaving your nipples damaged or sore.

Having a frenectomy fixes these and a number of other problems and difficulties caused by tongue-tie.

Signs a Child has Tongue-Tie

As a child with tongue-tie grows, various other problems can develop. A frenectomy can solve the issues, though exercises are often needed to gain full movement of the tongue. There are muscles in the tongue that haven’t been used due to the condition. The following are among the signs a child has tongue-tie and would benefit from a frenectomy:

  • Speech problems due to difficulty saying certain letters
  • The frenulum under the tongue gets stuck between the teeth
  • Receding gums that result in periodontal issues
  • Unable to stick out the tongue past the lips
  • There is a lot of spacing between the two upper front teeth caused by excess fibrotic tissue of the frenum

Contact Gep TOTs Dental Group

Do you believe your baby or child may have problems that are caused by tongue-tie or lip-tie? At Gep TOTs Dental Group, we specialize in performing lip-tie and tongue-tie laser treatments. Using a dental laser, we quickly correct these conditions, and your child will experience minimal discomfort. Contact us today at (647) 492-7059. Gep TOTs Dental Group is located at Woodbridge Kids Dentistry.

Tongue-tie is a condition present at birth that causes a range of problems, and a simple procedure called a “frenectomy” is the best treatment.Tongue-tie is when the tongue is restricted because it’s connected too tightly to the floor of the mouth by connective tissue called the “frenulum.” The condition is often misunderstood, even among physicians and other health professionals who work in Labor and Delivery. This is unfortunate, since the most beneficial time to treat tongue-tie is when a baby is still a newborn.

Immediate Problems Caused by Tongue-Tie

The most serious problem caused by tongue-tie beginning at birth is that breastfeeding is very difficult and causes mom excessive pain. The baby’s tongue doesn’t have the needed freedom and movement to properly breastfeed.

In trying to nurse, babies find that it’s too painful. They end up making compensations in their attempt to get nourishment. Whether they simply take much longer than usual to nurse, purse their lips, or limit how far their mouths are opened because of tongue tie, the ultimate result is unsuccessful breastfeeding. Babies typically fail to thrive. Some with the muscle strength and ability to stay awake for lengthy feedings usually manage to maintain proper weight, but the ordeal is too painful for moms, who are compelled to stop breastfeeding prematurely.

The following are more signs that an infant has tongue-tie. The baby:

  • Has difficulty latching on
  • Needs frequent or extended feeds
  • Biting or grinding when feeding
  • Low weight
  • Slips off the breast while nursing
  • Drooling
  • Dribbles or makes clicking sounds while breastfeeding
  • Vomits after nursing
  • The tip of the tongue can’t reach the roof of the mouth
  • Difficulty licking lips
  • Swallowing problems
  • Pain
  • Impaired tongue mobility

Long-term results of tongue-tie include narrow dental arches, malocclusion (a misaligned bite), cavities, mouth breathing, and sleep disturbance problems.

What is a Frenectomy?

A frenectomy is a procedure to treat tongue tie in which the tissue connecting the tongue to the floor of the mouth is disconnected, allowing the tongue to freely move. Neither a scalpel nor stitches are needed, thanks to advancements in technology. A frenectomy performed with a laser is quick and precise, and no anesthesia is needed. The entire procedure is typically performed in about three minutes.

Frenectomies are performed with a very high success rate. Any discomfort during the healing process is typically treated with ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

Contact the Experts at GEP TOTs Dental Group / Woodbridge Orthopedics

A team of specialists in the Greater Toronto Area are experts at diagnosing and treating infants and children with tongue-tie and the other form of tethered oral tissue (TOT), lip tie.

If your newborn has difficulties feeding and possibly other symptoms of tongue-tie, consult our professionals at GEP TOTs Dental Group / Woodbridge Orthodontics as soon as possible. The healing time for a frenectomyis quicker and post-operative pain is minimized when a baby is still in the newborn stage. Contact us online or call (803) 223-7655 for an appointment with our dental specialists. There are many immediate and long-term issues that will be resolved with a frenectomy, if your child has tongue-tie.

Tongue tie and lip tie can both make breastfeeding difficult and painful for babies. As a result, some infants manage to shift their approach, relieve the pain, and get needed nourishment. Two results are that feeding times are prolonged, as is pain for the mother. Other things are going on at the same time, however, that create long-term negative effects. Overall, what’s happening is proof of two things. First, weight gain should not be considered a universal measure of successful breastfeeding. Secondly, greater awareness is needed regarding the importance of identifying and repairing tongue/lip tie. More details follow.

How Babies Compensate for Tongue/Lip Tie Pain during Breastfeeding

Tongue tie and lip tie are both conditions that interfere with the ability to successfully breastfeed. The following are some methods babies use to adapt to the situation, but the outcomes do not equate to successful breastfeeding.

Prolonged Breastfeeding

A baby with high muscle tone can be tenacious about receiving needed nourishment. Due to their high level of muscle tone, these babies don’t fatigue at the breast as quickly as infants normally do when oral restrictions make breastfeeding difficult and uncomfortable. They succeed in thriving; but when mom is tempted to quit breastfeeding because of unbearable pain associated with a baby’s tongue or lip tie, early weight gain is irrelevant.

Pursing the Lips

A common type of compensation for tongue/lip tie is that the baby latches on by pursing the lips. The tongue is unable to create the seal and suction required for proper breastfeeding.

“Small Mouth”

If a baby fails to fully open his mouth during breastfeeding, it’s because of pain associated with tongue/lip tie. The baby closes the mouth until the painful tension caused by a short frenulum dissipates, resulting in a shallow latch. Experts have had the experience of finding that lactation experts are often unaware of the association between tongue or lip tie and:

  • “Small mouth” breastfeeding
  • Pursing the lips, and
  • Prolonged, painful nursing.

Long-Term Effects: Tongue/Lip Tie and Dental Occlusion

A normal palate and process of development

Research shows that proper breastfeeding directly contributes to improved dental occlusion, which is the position of the teeth when the mouth is closed. Successful breastfeeding also encourages optimum craniofacial development. The palate is naturally expanded through normal breastfeeding, and the following explains the process:

The palate is molded into a broad shelf when a pliable breast is lifted by the tongue, and at the same time, pressure is placed on the gums. The teeth, as a result, ultimately grow inadequately spaced.

As a child grows older, the palate is central to facial growth. With a low, broad palate, breathing out of the nose is easy and the potential for sleep apnea and sleep disordered breathing is reduced.

A high palate and disruptions resulting from tongue/lip tie

If an infant has a high palate and tongue-tie and therefore fails to breastfeed properly, the following are among the potential results:

  • The nasal cavity is contracted because the palate becomes arched instead of properly expanding. A high palate is often immediately noticeable after the child is born because the baby will snort heavily during nursing. For children with tongue/lip tie, the latch is further complicated by nasal obstruction.
  • If the floor the septum is on rises up, the result is a deviated septum, though this is a delayed response, occurring over the course of years.
  • Above two responses predispose an infant to mouth breathing.
  • A high palate is associated with crowded teeth, referred to as maxillary constriction.

More Medical Professionals Need to Know

It helps a great deal when health care professionals are able to identify various behaviors as symptoms of tongue/lip tie. There are many preventable consequences associated with failing to treat these conditions, including: premature termination of breastfeeding, misalignment of the teeth, and disordered breathing that disrupts sleep later on in life.