How Do I Know If My Baby Has a Tongue or Lip Tie?

Birth is a complex process that starts long before labor pains and the child leaves the womb. The mother’s body prepares the child for birth early on to ensure that several functions are working correctly for the child to survive outside the womb. However, these processes can fail to complete, leading to complications in the child’s health when born. Two issues that commonly affect almost 15% of infants are tongue and lip ties. 



What Is a Tongue Tie?


Also known as ankyloglossia, tongue tie is a congenital condition that negatively impacts the ability of the child to use their tongue. The condition occurs when a thick and short band of flesh attaches the tongue to the mouth’s floor or the tip of the tongue. The thick band, lingual frenulum, impacts the ability of the child to breastfeed correctly and limits the range of motion. 



What Is a Lip Tie?


A lip tie develops when the space between the lower and upper gums is not enough, similar to the tongue tie in several ways. Lip ties are less common than tongue ties, but they also have the same effect of reducing the range of motion. Typically, lip ties are not dangerous for children unless they hinder breastfeeding to the point where they are not gaining weight as they should. 



What Are the Signs Your Child Has a Tongue or Lip Tie?


Signs of a Tongue Tie:


  • The child is unable to lift his/her tongue when crying

  • The child’s tongue sticks out of the mouth past the front teeth

  • Your child’s tongue appears heart-shaped or is indented

  • Difficulty moving the tongue side to side or the upper teeth

  • You can see an abnormal band of tissue that seems to link the tongue to the gums

  • Your child is not gaining weight even if he/she is feeding or frustrated when doing it


Signs of a Lip Tie:


  • Breastfeeding the child is more painful than you think it should or than your previous child

  • Your child has a hard time latching onto your breasts

  • You may develop mastitis or blocked milk ducts

  • They fall asleep while feeding

  • Your child may develop a nursing blister on his/her lips

  • Your child makes clicking sounds when feeding

  • When you lift your child’s lip, his/her gums blanch white

  • You are constantly tired after breastfeeding, even when your child is not full

  • You experience pain or develop blisters on your nipples after feeding



What Are the Causes?


Usually, the lingual frenulum separates while the mother’s body prepares for the birthing process. But in children with this condition, the frenulum fails to detach because of unknown reasons. It seems the condition is genetic in many cases. 



What Are the Treatment Options?


Treatment for this condition is called a frenectomy, and doctors can perform it in the offices in a few minutes. Many professionals recommend performing the procedure immediately after the child is cleared to leave the hospital for the best results. Experts will usually evaluate the child before the procedure to determine whether he/she qualifies. 


To learn more on whether your baby has a tongue tie or lip tie, visit Reaves Dental at our office in New Hartford, New York. Call (315) 736-0139​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ to book an appointment today.

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