Between 4% and 11% of babies are born with a tongue tie. While tongue ties and lip ties aren’t always bad, they can cause problems in more severe cases. If your baby has a severe lip or tongue tie, you may want to take them to a Lexington pediatric dentist for an evaluation to see if they need treatment.

But what is a lip or tongue tie anyway? How can you identify whether or not your child has one? Let’s talk about it.

Read on to learn all about lip and tongue ties.

What Is a Tongue or Lip Tie?

When you hear the phrase “tongue-tied,” you may think of how it’s used colloquially. In most cases, it just means that someone is having trouble saying what they want to say.

When it comes to oral health, however, a tongue tie has a much more literal meaning. It means that a baby or child’s tongue is not able to move as it should. This is because the piece of flesh underneath the tongue (the lingual frenulum) is too short or thick.

A lip tie is similar. Instead of the lingual frenulum, the labial frenulum is the problem. This is the piece of flesh that connects the center of the upper lip to the gums.

Do Tongue and Lip Ties Always Cause Problems?

Tongue and lip ties aren’t always problematic, and your kid’s dentist in Georgetown or Lexington won’t recommend fixing it unless it’s necessary to do so for your child’s health or comfort.

For infants, tongue and lip ties can cause problems when the child is trying to breastfeed. They make it difficult to get a good latch so the baby will struggle to eat enough food and gain any healthy weight.

For toddlers and older children, severe lip and tongue ties can cause speech impediments and sometimes gum recession in serious cases.

In short, you may never notice your child’s tongue or lip tie if it isn’t severe. If you suspect that your child has a tongue or lip tie, bring them to the dentist for an evaluation!

Signs of a Tongue or Lip Tie

So how would you even know if your child has a tongue or lip tie? You can’t always tell just by looking (although sometimes it’s obvious). You may not even know to look.

Here are a few signs that infants and children display that could indicate a tongue or lip tie.

Painful Breastfeeding

This is one sign that breastfeeding parents can notice right away. If breastfeeding is incredibly painful (discomfort is normal), it may be a sign that the baby has a tongue or lip tie.

This is happening because the baby is struggling to stay latched to the breast. The baby may be moving around more or using more force to try to eat and that results in sore or even bruised nipples after feeding.

Baby Is Tired After Breastfeeding

When a baby is unable to latch correctly, breastfeeding gets a lot harder. Trying to eat breakfast feels like a workout and the baby may be ready for a nap right after.

Of course, feeling sleepy after breastfeeding is normal, but it should be a “pleasant” sleepiness. If a baby seems cranky and exhausted after eating, it may be a sign that they have a tongue or lip tie.

No Weight Gain

Babies gain weight quickly. They gain one to two pounds every month for the first few months. If your baby isn’t gaining weight, or if they’re losing weight, it may be a sign that they’re unable to eat due to a tongue or lip tie.

There are other potential causes for your baby’s inability to gain weight, so make sure to talk to your child’s pediatrician if this is the case.

Gas or Reflux After Breastfeeding

If a baby can’t latch, it’ll suck in air while they try to breastfeed. This can cause issues with gas and reflux. It will be uncomfortable for the baby.

Look for signs like bloating, vomiting, and burping. They may be the result of a lip or tongue tie.

Speech Problems

Most of the time, significant lip and tongue ties become evident in infancy. Some older children display tongue ties too, however.

A severe lip or tongue tie can inhibit your child’s ability to speak. If your child’s speech isn’t developing as it should, a tongue tie could be the culprit.

How Will a Kid’s Dentistry Professional Help?

If your child has a tongue or lip tie, what can a Georgetown dentist do for you?

When you visit a pediatric dentist for a lip tie or tongue tie, they’ll evaluate your child to determine whether or not further action is necessary. If the child is in good health and isn’t struggling to eat, they may choose not to pursue treatment.

If treatment is necessary, the dentist will perform a frenectomy. This is a quick procedure in which they cut the problematic piece of connective tissue. This should relieve the problem right away.

In most cases, this should be enough. It’s a quick outpatient procedure that takes about fifteen minutes and heals in one to three weeks in most cases. Talk to your child’s dentist about whether or not a frenectomy is right for your baby.

Visit Your Lexington Pediatric Dentist Today

Have you seen any signs that your child may have a tongue or lip tie? If so, it may be time to visit your Lexington pediatric dentist. Even if not, your baby should have their first dentist appointment before they’re a year old, so if you haven’t been yet, now’s the time!

Find your closest location and make your appointment today!