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Lip Ties – Is it Curable?

Lip ties, very much like tongue ties, are curable. Medically known as ankyloglossia, lip and tongue ties can be cured by undergoing through a safe procedure called frenectomy or frenuloplasty. Dr. Reese has done this procedure many times in our Indianapolis Dentistry Clinic. It is perfectly safe!

How Lip Ties are Cured: What Goes on in a Frenectomy

Lip Tie Repair in IndianapolisAlthough there are very few doctors who offer treatments in their office, the procedure is actually quite simple and safe! Dr. Reese is able to perform a complete frenotomy, “the incision and relocation of the frenal attachment”, in one visit, either by modern laser techniques or traditional scalpel incision.

This simple surgery takes less than five minutes and causes little to no pain or complications thereafter. It is usually performed with a local anesthetic and can involve either clipping or the use of a special laser, which causes little or no bleeding because the laser seals the ends of the blood vessels in the area as it cuts. The laser also will seal nerve endings, reducing pain after the procedure. However, laser treatment does take longer than simply anesthetizing and clipping so patients will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to ensure the best treatment.

Signs of a Lip Tie in a Baby*

Generally, mothers would often initially notice problems in breastfeeding their babies if they have lip or tongue ties. However, tongue and lip ties affect more than breastfeeding.  Even if a baby could breastfeed well and without causing mom to feel pain, restrictive frenulums can affect jaw and dental development, breathing, chewing, swallowing and digestion.  Tongue and/or lip ties are also associated with reflux, which can cause significant pain for baby and may result in the need for medication.

Signs in mom:

  • nipple pain and/or erosions
  • nipple looks pinched, creased, bruised, or abraded after feeds
  • white stripe at the end of the nipple
  • painful breasts/vasospasm
  • low milk supply
  • plugged ducts
  • mastitis
  • recurring thrush
  • frustration, disappointment, and discouragement with breastfeeding
  • weaning before mom is ready

Signs in baby:

  • poor latch and suck
  • unusually strong suck due to baby using excess vacuum to remove milk
  • clicking sound while nursing (poor suction)
  • ineffective milk transfer
  • infrequent swallowing after initial let-down
  • inadequate weight gain or weight loss
  • irritability or colic
  • gas and reflux
  • fussiness and frequent arching away from the breast
  • fatigue within one to two minutes of beginning to nurse
  • difficulty establishing suction to maintain a deep grasp on the breast
  • breast tissue sliding in and out of baby’s mouth while feeding
  • gradual sliding off the breast
  • chewing or biting on the nipple
  • falling asleep at the breast without taking in a full feed
  • coughing, choking, gulping, or squeaking when feeding
  • spilling milk during feeds
  • jaw quivering after or between feeds

Assessing baby for tongue-tie: (baby may not have every sign)

  • Does baby’s tongue rise less than half-way to the palate when crying?
  • Do the sides of the tongue lift but not the center?
  • Can you see a dip in the tongue in the center of the mouth?
  • Does tongue have a heart shaped tip?
  • Does baby have a high, narrow or bubble palate?
  • Can you see or feel a tight frenulum?

To feel for a restrictive frenulum, you can use the “Murphy Maneuver,” developed by San-Diego pediatrician Dr. James Murphy. Put your little finger at the base of baby’s tongue and draw across the floor of the mouth. If you feel a resistance in the center of baby’s mouth, that is the frenulum. If you cannot get past this frenulum without going around it, then it may be restrictive enough to affect baby’s ability to breastfeed.

*Signs are from Feed the Baby LLC.

Dr. Reese Performs Frenectomies in Our Clinic

Whether you child is breastfed or not, it is essential that you start bringing them to a dentist as early as possible. This is for a routine dental check-up, allowing your dentist to get a baseline on your baby’s primary teeth, whether they are growing correctly and even to check for tongue ties. Dr. Ted Reese is an Indianapolis dentist who does pediatric cleanings (kids get a toy and a special bag with their own toothbrush and toothpaste) to prevent cavities, frenectomies for children with tongue or lip ties, and traditional or ceramic braces for teens and pre-teens. He practices minimally-invasive dentistry to make it as pain-free as possible (there are also various sedation modalities that can be used) for your child. You can schedule an appointment by calling 317-882-0228.