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Tongue Tie Troubles: Is a Frenectomy Necessary in Infants?

Jul 18, 2023Pediatric Dentistry

adorable baby with a yellow bear

It can be challenging to tell when our smallest children are having trouble, whether it’s a slight fever, a tummyache, or something more significant. Since babies can’t tell us what’s wrong, we must pay close attention to little changes and signs indicating pain, struggles, and discomfort. This is especially the case in today’s topic – tongue/lip ties and their treatment, frenectomies.

Tongue and lip ties can be tough for parents, especially when you don’t know what to watch out for. That’s where our guide comes in. Today, we will take a closer look at frenectomies, when we need them, and how they can help you and your little one.

What is a Frenectomy Procedure?

In your mouth, little pieces of skin attach your tongue, cheek, and lip to the inside of your mouth. This small piece of connective tissue (called a frenulum) can cause many issues for babies and kids when it develops abnormally. When this skin is too long, thick, or short, it makes a lot of things more challenging or even painful. This is when we restore function with a life-changing procedure: a frenectomy.

A frenectomy for infants, often known as a “tongue-tie release,” is a simple yet specialized procedure designed to fix issues and discomfort caused by lip ties or tongue ties.

The doctor carefully detaches or removes the frenulum under the tongue or lip that’s causing problems. This quick and straightforward procedure can make a world of difference in helping your little one do the essential things in life – like breastfeeding and learning to talk! 

little baby with blue knit hat

Signs that Your Little One Has a Tongue or Lip Tie

Tongue and lip ties can be hard to spot, especially with a young child who can’t tell you when they are uncomfortable or struggling with day-to-day activities. In fact, for some children, tongue ties and lip ties are diagnosed until they’re old enough to talk and start school! However, signs will still tell parents that it’s time to call their pediatric dentist for an exam. Here’s what to pay attention to.

Nursing Problems: When the frenulum doesn’t develop properly, it can prevent your infant from curling or flaring their lips during nursing. Swallowing can also be painful or difficult. This doesn’t just mean your baby will struggle to gain weight – it can also mean lousy sleep, colic, gassiness, and reflux!

Difficulty Learning to Talk: Struggling with speech is a big sign that your child needs a frenectomy. An untreated tongue or lip tie can significantly impact speech, but this is also something that won’t show up right away.

Open-Mouth Breathing: If your child sleeps with their mouth open, it could be caused by a lip tie. Not only will this impact their sleeping, but it can also lead to tooth decay and respiratory issues.

Discomfort for Mom: Babies aren’t the only ones who feel the impact of nursing problems. Breastfeeding can be painful with a baby who can’t correctly nurse, and mothers may even notice nipple trauma, infection, and mastitis. 

Does My Infant Need a Frenectomy? 

A frenectomy is a minimally-invasive procedure that corrects issues that lead to difficulty speaking, breastfeeding, eating, and more. If a medical professional diagnoses your infant with a tongue tie or lip tie, a frenectomy could be life-changing depending on the tongue or lip tie’s severity.

This safe, painless, and minimally invasive surgery offers a lifetime of benefits for mothers and children! Happy smiles start with a healthy mouth. Whether your baby needs a frenectomy is something that you’ll cover with your doctor or pediatric dentist during a frenectomy consultation. If you are uncertain about your little one undergoing surgery, speak with your doctor about the benefits of frenectomies and the side effects of tongue ties.

And, of course, speak with our team at Great Smiles Pediatric Dentistry to set up a frenectomy consultation. While simple for your baby, frenectomies can’t just be performed by anyone. Our own Dr. Bill and Dr. Stephanie have specialized training and education, making them uniquely qualified to perform this procedure! And we use a CO2 laser to perform frenectomies so moms and babies can enjoy an easier, painless, and safer treatment.

Positive Communication

Choose a children’s dental practice near you where you and your child feel comfortable. You want good, effective communication and education. Look for a pediatric dentist who takes the time to explain procedures in a child-friendly manner, addressing any concerns or questions your child may have. 

Children dentistry and orthodontics

Final Thoughts on Finding a Pediatric Dentist Near You

Friendly staff and dentists who are skilled in interacting with children can help alleviate anxiety and create a positive dental experience for you and your child. Have a conversation with the staff when you call or ask to have a quick conversation with one of the pediatric dentists before you make an appointment.

Or, if you go and something does not fit about the experience– the service, the location near you, the atmosphere– then switch to a different dentist for your kids.

By prioritizing your child’s comfort, communication, and comprehensive care, you can ensure that they receive the best possible dental experience and lay the foundation for a lifetime of oral health.