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Home » What are lip and tongue ties, and how are they treated?

What are lip and tongue ties, and how are they treated?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a great deal of awareness surrounding tongue and lip ties. Which means many mums and babies are suffering through this condition without knowing there is a simple and effective fix. Thankfully, some practitioners are becoming increasingly more involved in the lactation period and helping mums through any difficulties they may come across.

What are tongue-ties and lip-ties?

Tongue-ties and lip-ties happen when the fraenum (soft tissue attaching the lip and tongue to the gums) is too short or restricts the range of motion for the lip or tongue in some way. When this happens, babies are unable to latch on properly because they cannot form the correct mouth shape. They may also have trouble swallowing and breathing because the tongue plays a crucial part in the movement involved. Even from an early age, eating and speaking, or at least learning to make sounds, are key factors in important development milestones. As a result, these restrictions have the potential to severely affect the development of your child.

What are the symptoms of tongue-ties and lip-ties?

While this condition may be difficult to diagnose for the untrained eye, there are some symptoms to look out for. These include:
  • Colic or reflux in excess
  • Difficulty latching
  • A gassy baby
  • Poor weight gain
  • Discomfort or pain for the mother during feeding
  • Sore, cracked or bleeding nipples

How do we diagnose tongue and lip ties?

To diagnose whether the tongue-tie in your baby’s mouth restricts the movement negatively, we will undertake a straightforward physical exam. Our dentists will:
  1. Check your baby’s tongue and mouth, including areas like the front teeth, floor of the mouth, and the lower and upper lip
  2. Assess the mobility of the tongue
  3. Ask how feeding is progressing, and if there are any of the aforementioned signs or symptoms

What are the treatment options for tongue and lip-ties?

Previously, this treatment has typically been done via what’s called a Frenectomy, in which the tongue-tie is clipped with surgical scissors. At Marriott & Hand, we remove the ties using our special soft-tissue laser. This ensures that once the tie releases, the wound heals efficiently without the need for stitches. The wound will be automatically sealed. The treatment will be over quite quickly with minimal discomfort. This treatment will restore the full function of the baby’s lips and tongue meaning they will be able to latch on properly, feed properly and will reduce all of the difficulties associated with this condition. This means no more feeding every 2 hours, no more discomfort from feeding and no more gassy, colicky baby. This treatment can only be performed on babies up to about 7 – 10 months of age. After this, general anaesthetic may need to be used and the treatment becomes considerably more complicated. We recommend making an appointment to have your baby assessed if you have any concerns at all. We will need a referral from your lactation consultant, maternal health nurse or doctor. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Treating this condition as soon as possible will mean a happier, more fulfilled baby sooner.

Does the condition only affect babies?

If the condition is not treated in infancy it will continue into childhood and adulthood. In days gone by treating this condition, we would generally only notice the problem around the age of 2-4 when the child comes in for their first appointment. Or even later when they come to receive orthodontic treatment. This was because as dentists we don’t generally have access to newborns as they haven’t developed any teeth! Thankfully, with the increasing awareness of these concerns, we have been able to team up with lactation nurses to tackle this condition together. Some of our adult patients present with similar issues. Living with this condition can be considerably uncomfortable for speech, eating and drinking as well as the development of teeth.

Tongue-ties and lip-ties Melbourne

If you are concerned about your baby’s feeding and latching, or you are experiencing discomfort while breastfeeding, call the friendly team at Marriott & Hand and we will be happy to guide you through our tongue-tie treatment. Contact us by phone or book a consultation through one of our online enquiry forms. We look forward to assisting you however we can.