A newborn who is having trouble nursing may have a common condition known as ‘tongue-tie’ or ankyloglossia. This condition is caused when a frenum – a small piece of tissue – connects the bottom of the tongue to the bottom of the mouth and restricts normal movement such as nursing or speaking.
We typically have three frenums in our mouth. You might be able to feel the frenum that connects the top of your inner lip to the top of your mouth, or the frenum that connects the bottom of your lower lip to the bottom of your mouth. The third frenum connects the underside of your tongue to the bottom of your mouth, and is often the problem with children who cannot nurse.
A child who suffers from tongue-tie may be referred for a corrective surgery called a newborn frenctomy, where restrictive frenum tissue is cut to provide a greater range of motion.
Traditional treatments for baby tongue-tie consists of "clipping and/or cutting" which then results in bleeding and a lot of undue stress to the parents. Thanks to advances in dental technology, a WaterLase Laser Frenectomy, which uses cool water during the procedure, there is virtually no bleeding, no pain, no risk of infection and the healing is instantaneous for infants. The procedure takes less than 1 minute.
In our Lovable Smiles office in Richardson, TX, we use WaterLase technology as a safe and gentle alternative to traditional dental tools. We have opportunity to help infants in the Plano and Dallas area who have trouble nursing due to tongue-tie issues every day.
It's such a precious sight to see young moms and dads and newborn babies on an almost daily basis in our dental practice. Often these new parents are under tremendous stress with an upset child who cannot nurse. The faces of these parents before and after this simple procedure remind me of a nervous, then jubilant, bride and groom. They are always better after the ceremony - or in this case - procedure. Their relief can be seen all over their faces. To see their newborn comfortably nursing after all of the problems is priceless.
In more mild cases, tongue-tie may be not diagnosed until a child is having difficultly pronouncing certain sounds.
We recently helped siblings in the same day; a 5-day old and his 7 year-old sister. The newborn was immediately able to nurse and thankfully slept through the night. The 7 year old was immediately able to pronounce her Ls. A laser frenectomy procedure was used on both children.
Don't Wait And See
Baby tongue-tie is very common, but often not diagnosed even when it causes problems. The “wait and see” approach can lead to more problems
- Nursing and eating
- Nutritional issues
- Inability to develop proper airway which has been correlated with asthma, sleep disorders (possibly S.I.D.S.), allergies, ADD/ADHD
And the issues can persist on into adulthood causing sleep disorders and the myriad of health issues related to that.
If your child has been diagnosed with tongue-tie, research treatment options including WaterLase laser frenectomy and traditional frenectomy procedures to understand the benefits of treatment for your child.
Dr. Larry Korenman, Laser Dentist
Loveable Smiles, Richardson, TX