Tongue and Lip Ties: What to Know
By Dr. Elizabeth May and Dr. Shannon De Vera
What are tongue and lip ties?
If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve heard your friends talk about their child’s experience with a tongue or lip tie. But what does that mean exactly? Medically, this is described as “tethered oral tissue,” or more specifically, “ankyloglossia” when referring to a tongue tie. Tongue and lip ties occur when the tissue in those areas is thick, short, or has a high attachment. Many tongue and lip ties go unnoticed, and children can lead full, happy lives without necessarily having them treated. Occasionally, a tongue or lip tie might cause symptoms in your child, and that is when it’s time to look a little deeper.
How do I know if my child could benefit from a frenectomy?
Children with tongue or lip ties occasionally present with “symptoms” which might be improved through a simple frenectomy procedure. One of the most common reasons parents seek a frenectomy is if their child is experiencing delayed speech or difficulty pronouncing certain words or sounds. If the movement or positioning of a child’s tongue is restricted by a high or thick frenum, they may benefit from a frenectomy. In these instances, it is often important to also work with a speech pathologist. Another reason parents may seek a frenectomy is if an orthodontist recommends the procedure as part of their overall treatment plan.
Does my infant need a frenectomy?
If your infant is having trouble latching or nursing, they may have a tongue or lip tie. In addition to speaking with a lactation consultant, it might be time to consider an evaluation with a pediatric dentist. If the infant’s oral tissue is tethered or “too tight,” a laser frenectomy can quickly and safely release the tension to make nursing more comfortable for both mom and baby.
Why should I choose a laser frenectomy over a traditional frenectomy?
Traditional frenectomies are often performed with either a scalpel or surgical scissors and may even require sutures. With new laser technology, however, frenectomies become much less invasive and a whole lot easier! The laser uses light energy to “vaporize” the tissue rather than cutting it, making the procedure faster and more comfortable. With a laser, there is minimal to no bleeding, and sutures are not required. The procedure is sterile with a very low risk of infection, and healing is much quicker. With some lasers, a frenectomy may even be completed without local anesthetic (that means no shots!).
So… what does this all mean?
Frenectomies and tongue ties have become quite the “hot topic” in recent years. It is important to remember that every child is unique and has unique needs. Not every tongue or lip tie necessarily needs to be treated with a frenectomy. If you have questions or want to know more, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for a consultation or a second opinion. We would love to meet you and your family!