If you’re a new parent, you might’ve never heard of lip and tongue tie. They are surprisingly common but often overlooked conditions in newborns or young children due to the frenulum (the tissue band connecting the tongue to the floor of the mouth or the upper lip to the upper gum) being too short or thick. The cause could be genetic, environmental, or both.
Signs and Symptoms of Lip and Tongue Tie
Understanding the signs and symptoms of lip and tongue ties can help parents seek timely intervention, ensuring their child’s growth and development are not affected. While every child may not exhibit all symptoms, here are some of the most commonly observed ones:
These are typically observable symptoms reflecting issues with feeding and speech. They include:
- Challenges With Breastfeeding: Infants with lip and tongue ties often struggle with latching on to the breast correctly, leading to slow weight gain or loss, frequent feeds due to insufficient milk, or an overly long feeding time. Mothers may also experience symptoms like damaged nipples, mastitis, or reduced milk supply due to inefficient feeding.
- Food Eating Difficulties in Toddlers: As they begin to eat solids, toddlers with lip or tongue tie might show difficulties. They may be messy eaters, struggle with certain textures, or take longer to eat. They might also gag, choke, or drool excessively during meals.
- Speech Development Delays: Tongue tie can affect a child’s ability to articulate certain sounds or words, leading to speech delay or unclear speech. Parents or caregivers might notice the child lagging behind their peers regarding speech development.
Beyond physical symptoms, a child’s behavior may also signal toward lip or tongue ties. Some of these include:
- Mood Changes: Children with these conditions may become easily irritated or throw frequent tantrums due to feeding difficulties and discomfort. They might also appear unsatisfied or frustrated even after feeding sessions.
- Sleep Disturbances: Difficulty feeding or swallowing can also lead to sleep disturbances, as the child might wake up frequently due to hunger or discomfort.
Effects of Untreated Lip and Tongue Tie
- Ignoring tongue and lip ties in your child can have short-term and long-term effects. On a short-term basis, leaving a tongue tie untreated can cause physical discomfort for your child due to struggling with feeding and feeling hungry.
- In the long run, untreated tongue ties can lead to speech impairments and oral health problems. They might even impact your child’s social and psychological development due to speaking and eating difficulties.
- In a Dental Home setting, a child is monitored carefully to ensure they grow up with good oral health.
- Regular comprehensive checkups allow early detection of any issue, including tongue and lip ties. For more info, parents are always encouraged to visit their website.
Diagnosis of Lip and Tongue Tie
Diagnosing tongue and lip tie includes a physical examination of your child’s mouth by a pediatric dentist. The examination includes testing the mobility of the tongue and looking for the classic heart-shaped tongue found in tongue-tied children. If needed, a specialist can be consulted for a comprehensive diagnosis.
The Role of a Pediatric Dentist in Diagnosis
A parent needs to find a pediatric dentist experienced in diagnosing tongue and lip ties. The reason is that the symptoms can sometimes be subtle and easily misread. An experienced pediatric dentist knows exactly what to look for and can evaluate comprehensively, setting the stage for effective treatment.
Treatment Options for Lip and Tongue Tie
- Once diagnosed, several treatment options are available for tongue and lip tie. A frenectomy procedure is usually performed where a dentist or oral surgeon will cut the frenulum to free the tongue or lip.
- Nowadays, a laser is often used for this, providing a quick, minimally painful procedure with a shorter recovery period than traditional surgery.
- There’s also the option of lip and tongue tie treatment using methods like speech therapy and a soft diet, which may help improve symptoms in some children.
- Notably, the tongue tie procedure in Sewell has proven effective in managing the condition.
Parental Considerations for Treatment
- Before deciding on a specific treatment method, weighing the benefits and risks is essential. Consult with a specialist who can provide in-depth explanations of various treatment options.
- Deciding the appropriate time for treatment is also critical. For younger children, early intervention can be helpful.
Post Treatment, Recovery, and Exercises
- Post-operative recovery depends on the type of treatment your child received. With a frenectomy, there can be minimal pain and discomfort for several days.
- You’ll be instructed on how to clean the wound, help manage any pain your child may be experiencing, and the feeding method in the recovery phase.
- To prevent the frenulum from reattaching and to promote optimal healing, your dentist or oral surgeon will give you a set of exercises to perform with your child.
- These exercises include tongue and lip stretches, which should be done daily for a few weeks post-operatively.
- Though a dental procedure, it is important to consider how cosmetic dentistry techniques can contribute to a child’s self-esteem as they grow older.
- Procedures such as those under cosmetic dentistry aim to improve the appearance of teeth, gums, and bites, enhance smiles, and positively contribute to a more confident adult.
As concerning as lip and tongue ties might be for a parent, understanding the condition, its symptoms, and the treatment options available can help manage it effectively. Remember that early detection and intervention can prove to be beneficial for your child in the long run.