Treating a Tongue or Lip Tie

Benefits of treatment    

There is no physiological need for a frenulum. “The evidence supports treating ties for breastfeeding problems” Dr Ghaheri MD. 2014 If it is affecting feeding then treatment earlier rather than later is recommended.

By releasing the frenulum, it has been shown to:

  • Decrease nipple pain
  • Improve babies latch
  • Enable baby to transfer milk more effectively
  • Improve weight gain, sleep patterns
  • Enable babies to be more settled, less windy
  • Lower the occurrence of blocked ducts and mastitis
  • Improve overall feelings about breastfeeding

Untreated Tongue and Upper lip ties have been associated with the following long term consequences depending on the severity of the tie:

  • Nutritional problems, inadequate weight gain or failure to thrive
  • Reflux
  • Excessive gagging
  • Sleep Apnoea
  • Ear infections
  • Speech problems: Severe ties can affect speech. Certain sounds are difficult to make if the tongue can’t move freely (especially ‘th’, ‘s’, ‘d’, ‘l’, and ‘t’).
  • Dental caries: Back molar caries are common in tongue-ties while front tooth decay is common with a severe lip tie
  • Dental development issues: Dental development may also be affected, with severe tongue-tie sometimes causing a gap between the two lower front teeth. Upper lip ties can cause a gap in the front teeth
  • Self-confidence issues: Tongue-tie may also make it hard for a child to lick an ice cream cone, stick out his tongue, play a wind instrument, or French kiss.

Treatment

If you are a parent in Tairawhiti, your lactation Consultant will be able to discuss the treatment options available to you depending on the age of your baby and the type of tie that is present. 

If it is determined that the tie requires treatment, there is a simple procedure called a “frenotomy” that can quickly correct the problem. The procedure is relatively painless and takes a few seconds. The treatment provider will use sterile scissors or laser to quickly separate the frenulum. Sterile gauze will be applied for a few seconds after a scissor release to slow the bleeding and baby can be put on the breast immediately following the procedure.

Mostly anaesthesia and stitches are not necessary. Some treatment providers with use a gel anaesthic and possibly further local anaesthetic if babies are older than a few weeks. The baby cries more because he is being restrained for a few seconds than he does because of pain. Comparing the procedure to ear piercing is a good analogy. In most cases, the mother notices an immediate improvement in both her comfort level and the baby’s ability to feed more efficiently.

 

Video of a frenotomy done with scissors:

 

Video of lip tie release with scissors:

 

Video of Lip and Tongue tie release with laser


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