As many as one in ten children can be affected by lip tie, and mounting evidence suggests it may have genetic components.
This condition is characterized by an abnormal frenum, the piece of skin that attaches the top lip to the gums. It can have a profound effect on your young child.
The good news is that pediatric dentist lip tie surgery is a simple and effective procedure. You can correct this easily in a short visit.
Read on to learn all about lip ties and what steps your pediatric dentist takes to fix them.
Identifying Lip Tie
Lip tie occurs when a child’s frenum is too large or too thick. This causes children with lip ties to have restricted movement of their upper lip. Difficulty feeding, speaking, and sometimes sleeping can result from it.
Most people have a frenum connected to their top lip, so lip tie is only diagnosed when it affects your child’s day-to-day life.
There are four different classifications for lip ties.
Class one is when the lip is connected to the area above the gums. In class two, the lip is attached to the gums.
Class three lip tie occurs when the lip is connected to the area the front teeth grow. Class four, the most severe case of lip tie, is when the lip is connected to the palate.
Lip tie can occur in conjunction with a condition called ankyloglossia, or tongue-tie. With tongue-tie, a band of tissue connects the tip of the tongue to the bottom of the mouth.
Diagnosing Lip Tie
To be sure your child struggles with a lip tie, you’ll need a diagnosis from a medical professional. A wide range of doctors will be able to diagnose the condition, but the responsibility often falls to pediatric dentists. It’s common for a pediatrician to not notice the lip tie during your baby’s physical.
During the diagnosis, your doctor will ask you a few questions and perform an oral exam.
The questions they ask will revolve around things you’ve noticed while breastfeeding. Expect to answer questions about the frequency of feeding, whether your child spits out or chokes on milk, and the sounds they make while feeding.
How Lip Tie Affects You and Your Child
The difficulties associated with lip ties begin as soon as your child starts nursing.
Mothers might have difficulty breastfeeding a baby with a lip tie. The child might will difficulty latching on to nurse.
Lip ties can cause poor suction and result in your baby taking in too much air during feeding. They also might not be able to get enough nutrients, which could mean your child ends up undernourished.
A child might develop tooth decay when food gets trapped in the area around the lip. It could also create a sizable gap in their front teeth.
Feeding difficulties also have consequences for a mother. It could be painful to feed your child and your baby’s attempts to feed could result in damage to your nipples.
As most children get older, their frenum shrinks. Some parents might prefer to wait to see how age affects their child’s lip tie, but most doctors recommend a corrective procedure if a child struggles to nurse.
The Pediatric Dentist Lip Tie Corrective Procedure
A pediatric dentist corrects lip ties with a surgery called a frenectomy. It’s a quick and often painless procedure that usually takes only a few minutes to complete.
Many parents pursue this corrective surgery very early in their child’s life. Babies only a few weeks old are eligible for it.
The surgery starts by strapping your child to the operating table. This is done for their safety, as any sudden movements could affect the procedure.
Once your child is secured, your pediatric dentist will use a numbing agent on your child’s gums. This ensures that they’ll feel as little pain as possible.
Now it’s time to cut the tissue. For this, the dentist uses a special laser.
The laser offers a number of advantages over other methods. It’s incredibly precise and is able to vaporize a few cells at once.
The heat from the laser also ensures that there is a limited amount of bleeding. It seals blood vessels as it removes the tissue.
It will only take about 30 seconds for the dentist to detach the tissue with their laser.
After the Surgery
Once the surgery is done, your child can immediately resume nursing. In some cases, you’ll see an immediate improvement in your child’s ability to latch on during feeding.
Other children may need longer to acclimate to the changes in their mouths. They may have learned incorrect feeding techniques and will need time to develop new habits.
Over-the-counter pain medication can help limit any post-surgery pain and swelling your child experiences. Your child might also need an antibacterial mouthwash to prevent infections.
Your dentist may have you and your child return to the office for a check-up after a few weeks. In rare cases, the frenum re-attaches because mouths tend to heal very quickly.
Post-surgery stretching can limit the likelihood of the frenum reattaching. You’ll help your baby stretch their upper lip and their tongue. Your dentist will demonstrate how to do it.
You should also keep in mind that a minimal amount of bleeding around the surgical area is common in the few days after the surgery. It usually clears up after about a week.
A Pediatric Dentist You Can Trust
Lip ties are a fairly common condition. They occur when the tissue that connects your child’s top lip to their mouth is too thick or too large.
This condition can cause a number of difficulties for you and your child. It makes breastfeeding more painful and it could prevent your child from getting the nutrients they need to thrive.
Pediatric dentist lip tie surgery can correct this issue with a laser. The procedure only takes a few minutes from start to finish.
Is your child dealing with a lip tie? Dr. Amy at Pediatric Dentistry of Hamburg has spent years developing her corrective procedure and is incredibly passionate about her work. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.