Unveiling the Truth About Infant Tongue-Tie
At Beam Laser Tongue-Tie Center, our mission is to shed light on the often-misunderstood condition of infant tongue-ties and to empower parents to make informed decisions about their child’s health and well-being.
What are Tongue-Ties and Lip-Ties?
Infant tongue-tie is a condition where the lingual frenulum, also called the frenum, which is the thin band of tissue that connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth, is shorter, thicker, or tighter than usual. A lip-tie is a condition where the upper lip is restricted and cannot move normally. These conditions can lead to nursing, feeding, dental, speech, sleep, or breathing problems. Problems can even persist into adulthood with sleep issues, headaches, neck pain, shoulder pain, and speech problems.
A Hidden Challenge
Despite being frequently overlooked, tongue-ties and lip-ties can serve as underlying causes of feeding difficulties, which can hinder a child’s weight gain and prompt many mothers to discontinue breastfeeding.
What are the Symptoms of Tongue- and Lip-Ties?
By understanding the signs and symptoms of tongue-tie, parents can seek appropriate evaluation and intervention to support successful breastfeeding. If you or your infant experience any of these symptoms, contact us to conduct an accurate evaluation.
- Painful nursing
- Creased or flattened nipples
- Blistered or cut nipples
- Incomplete breast drainage
- Plugged ducts or mastitis
- Inability to nurse without using a nipple shield
- Decreased milk supply
- Poor latch
- Poor weight gain
- Reflux or frequent spitting up
- Frequent gassiness and fussiness
- Clicking or smacking noises when eating
- Dribbling milk out of mouth
- Frustration when eating
- Inability to hold a pacifier
- Prolonged nursing or bottle-feeding sessions
Tongue-Tie & Lip-Tie Release Procedure
Tongue-tie and lip-tie release is a simple procedure to free up the lip or tongue that may be performed as early as a couple of days after birth and can be performed into adulthood. Typically, once a problem with a tongue-tie or lip-tie has been discovered, the sooner it is addressed the better the procedure will work and the less issues the child will have.
The most common treatment for a tongue- or lip-tie is a frenectomy, which is a simple and quick procedure performed in our office in which the restricting frenum is cut with a state-of-the-art laser in order to free up the lip or tongue. The laser gently removes the tight tissue with typically minimal bleeding, no stitches, and no sedation or general anesthesia. Most of the time, the release procedure only takes about 20 seconds or less. Babies are allowed to nurse immediately after the procedure, and older children often notice an immediate difference in mobility of the tongue.
Turn to an Expert
Dr. Megan Beam, a general dentist with extensive post-graduate training in tongue and lip ties, is certified to provide this needed treatment. We believe in a multidisciplinary approach, working closely with a team of professionals who specialize in various areas, such as chiropractors, lactation consultants, speech therapists, and feeding therapists to ensure the overall best results for our patients.
The Beam Laser Tongue-Tie Center has a dedicated nursing and consult room that’s equipped with a recliner, nursing pillow, and sound machine.
Issues to Resolve
A tongue-tie or lip-tie can cause many issues for the afflicted child that can be alleviated and even removed once the proper treatment is provided.
A new baby with a too tight tongue and/or lip frenum can have trouble sucking and may have poor weight gain. If they cannot make a good seal on the nipple, they may swallow air causing gas, colic, and refill or spitting up. Mothers who experience significant pain while nursing or whose baby has trouble latching on should have their child evaluated for tongue- or lip-tie.
Some children are able to compensate for their tongue-tie and have no noticeable speech errors, but many struggle to adapt. Tongue-tied children often struggle with R, L, S, TH, SH, and Z sounds. Some children with a tongue-tie may have a lisp, talk softly or slowly, mumble, or even have a speech delay. A speech therapist evaluation should be considered in such cases.
Tongue-tie can also cause difficulty chewing and swallowing leading to choking, gagging, packing food in the cheeks, or spitting out food. The child may eat slowly or be picky with textures, such as meats or mashed potatoes. These issues may even manifest in cases of a “hidden” tongue-tie.
Some children may sleep restlessly, wake easily, or snore from a tongue-tie. Often, after treatment, children sleep more peacefully and feel more rested.
The release of the frenum is just one piece of the puzzle for full improvement. When tongue function is restricted by a tongue-tie or lip-tie, the body adapts. After the release procedure, it may take time for the brain to figure out how to effectively use the tongue. Your child will need some time to figure out what to do with the new mobility of their tongue and lip.
For infants, often a difference is immediately noticed, but it is also normal to not notice much difference in nursing right afterwards. Sometimes there may even be a little regression in sucking for a day or two as your child’s brain sorts out how to use their newly released tongue. Some babies may need chiropractic care, physical therapy, or occupational therapy to address other issues such as torticollis (tight neck muscles) that can affect nursing.
At Beam Laser Tongue-Tie Center, we understand the importance of comprehensive and collaborative care to achieve the best outcomes for our patients. That's why we believe in a multidisciplinary approach, working closely with a team of professionals who specialize in various areas. For certain cases, we may need to partner with other experts, such as chiropractors, lactation consultants, speech therapists, and feeding therapists to ensure the overall best results for our patients. In certain cases, we may even confer with another laser frenectomy center to ensure that our patients receive the most appropriate and effective treatment possible. By embracing a team-based approach, we are committed to optimizing the long-term health and functionality of our patients.