A Modern Dentistry Approach To Tongue Tie, Lip Tie, and Breastfeeding Medicine for Babies, Toddlers and Children
Dentistry for children has evolved so much since the early 20th century. Now, instead of just focusing on teeth and oral health, dentists are taking a more holistic approach to dental care for children. This includes tongue tie and lip tie frenectomy surgery as well as breastfeeding medicine for babies with colic or reflux.
What is a tongue tie or lip tie?
Tongue tie or lip tie happens when there is an remnant of tissue that affects normal function of the tongue. This could impact things such as breastfeeding and speech.
The tissue underneath the tongue or lip may restrict movement. When it is under the tongue, it is called a tongue tie (the medical term is ankyloglossia). When it affects the upper lip, it’s called a lip tie.
Ties are often graded based on how they look; however, the appearance isn’t what dictates severity of symptoms or whether treatment is needed. Rather, it must be determined that a tongue or lip tie is impacting function before deciding if surgical intervention is warranted.
Examples Of Tongue Tie & Lip Tie
What is a frenectomy?
A frenectomy is a procedure used to correct this congenital condition in which the lingual (tongue) or labial (upper lip) frenulum is too tight, causing restrictions in movement that can contribute to difficulty with breastfeeding, and in some instances, other health problems like mouth breathing, dental decay, altered craniofacial development and dental spacing, sleep and speech difficulties, and/or digestive issues.
Collaboration is Essential for a Successful Outcome
Breastfeeding dysfunction is multi-factorial, and as such, should be treated with a team approach. Not all breastfeeding dysfunction should be attributed to ankyloglossia and surgery should not be the initial treatment of choice. The first person you should contact if you are having difficulties with breastfeeding is a knowledgeable lactation consultant, particularly if there is suspicion of a posterior tongue tie.
“Posterior ankyloglossia is best characterized as a functional deficit or physical restriction that limits the mobility of the mid-tongue elevation. A restrictive lingual frenulum is only one cause of posterior ankyloglossia. Extra-oral fascial restrictions are another potential cause of posterior ankyloglossia, which can be improved with skilled manual therapy.“ (Ghaheri et al, 2020)
Therefore, the second person you should contact is a skilled body-worker (such as a pediatric osteopath, CST, or chiropractor) prior to considering surgery for ankyloglossia (particularly if a posterior tongue tie is suspected.)
Other practitioners you may need on your team:
- Lactation consultant (helping with breast feeding, bottle nipple, preemie nipples, flow rate, etc)
- Bodyworker (e.g. Pediatric Osteopaths, Craniosacral Therapists, Chiropractors)
- Myofunctional Therapist
- Pediatrician or Primary Care Physician
Working with the right practitioners for functional assessment and to prepare before and support after the surgery will be important to achieve a successful outcome.
If you are having trouble finding or would like a recommendation to a knowledgeable provider, we’d be happy to help you.
At Vedder Dental Clinic, Dr. Laura Caylor is a dentist who has a special interest in and has additional training with tongue ties.
Benefits of Laser for Frenectomy
- Reduced bleeding during surgery with consequent shorter surgery and more predictable operative field
- Improved post-operative comfort and healing
- Lasers are antibacterial, so infection is very unlikely.
CO2 Laser Technology for Frenectomies at Vedder Dental Clinic
For a positive experience for our pediatric clients, we are pleased to offer CO2 laser technology for our frenectomies.
Our friendly staff can answer your questions or book your . Call us today.
Areas We Serve
Chilliwack River Valley