What Are Infant Lip and Tongue Ties?
WHAT ARE INFANT LIP AND TONGUE TIES?
All babies are born with lip and tongue frenula, thin bands of soft tissue under the upper lip and tongue. When these bands interfere with proper function, they are called lip ties and tongue ties, also known as Tethered Oral Tissues (TOTS). They may restrict the mobility of the upper lip to flange and the tongue to move in a wave like motion, both of which are necessary to maximize breastfeeding efficiency.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY INFANT HAS TOTS?
For an infant, the most common symptom is difficulty breastfeeding. Nursing mothers may experience painful, cracked nipples.
Your baby may exhibit any of the following signs and symptoms:
· Difficulty with tongue movement
· Reflux due to swallowing air
· Gasp for air during feedings
· Fall asleep during feedings
· Gas or hiccups after feedings
· Poor, shallow latch
· Smacking or clicking sounds during feedings
· Leaks mild from his or her mouth
· Latch with gums and not with lips
· Oral blisters
· Poor weight gain due to poor milk transfer
· Gulp milk
· Inability to use a pacifier
· A preference toward bottle feeding
HOW ARE LIP AND TONGUE TIES TREATED?
If it’s determined that your baby has a lip or tongue tie, CO2 laser therapy is the most advanced, quick and safe treatment. The procedure uses carbon dioxide to quickly vaporize the excess tissue. The laser sterilizes the area so risk of infection is minimal. It also has a numbing effect that makes infants more comfortable. Many are able to nurse more efficiently immediately after treatment. If you believe your infant or child has a lip or tongue tie, contact a specialist. Early treatment by a highly trained professional is best to minimize future complications.
Left untreated, these ties can affect your baby’s quality of life. They can suffer from a range of complications throughout childhood and into adulthood, including:
· Bruxism (teeth grinding)
· Sleep apnea
· Difficulty staying asleep
· Mouth breathing
· Difficult chewing food
· Delayed speech
· Oral health issues like tooth decay
· Slower speaking ability
· Neck, back, or jaw pain
· Narrow high palate
· Underbite or overbite
· Improper spacing of teeth
· Chronic asthma, allergies or rhinitis
It is essential to work with a certified lactation consultant to assist with any breastfeeding issues. Many tongue tied infants may also benefit from craniosacral or myofascial therapy.
If you are concerned that your baby may have a lip and/or tongue tie, parents may request a complimentary consultation with Dr. Fawn Rosenberg of Lexington Smile Studio. Appointments can be scheduled over the phone at (781) 861-SMILE or online at www.LexingtonSmileStudio.com. The office is conveniently located at 922 Waltham Street, Suite 202, Lexington, MA 02421. We welcome new patients and many insurances.
ABOUT FAWN ROSENBERG, DMD, FAGD
Dr. Rosenberg graduated from Tufts School of Dental Medicine in 1985, and received her Fellowship from the Academy of General Dentistry in 1990. For more than 20 years, Dr. Rosenberg has been using a variety of lasers in the field of dentistry. Her credentials have been recognized at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, as well as Tufts University, Boston University, and Harvard University, where she previously held staff appointments.
Dr. Rosenberg is devoted to continuing her education while participating in dental organizations. She is an active member of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, the International Affiliation of Tongue-Tie Professionals, and the International Consortium of Oral Ankylofrenula Professionals.