When they’re born, each child should be evaluated for lip and tongue tie. Membranes are supposed to connect our lips and our tongue to other parts of the mouth, but if these connections are too tight, they can interfere with your child’s ability to breastfeed and may affect their future development, increasing their risk of bite problems like TMJ, breathing problems such as sleep apnea, and a less attractive profile.
Fortunately, a procedure known as frenectomy can be used to loosen these ties, allowing your child to function and develop normally. For some children and even adults, we may want to encourage development with myofunctional therapy.
Effects of Lip and Tongue Tie
Lip and tongue tie can have significant consequences for the health and development of a child. Children with lip and tongue tie may face:
- Difficulty breastfeeding
- Breastfeeding complications for mother
- Impaired development of jaws
- Speech difficulties
- Orthodontic problems
- TMJ and other bite problems in the future
- Sleep apnea as children and adults
One of the first functions that babies use their tongue and lips for is developing proper latch and sucking motions for breastfeeding. Tongue tie and lip tie can make it hard for a baby to form a proper latch, which not only makes it hard for a baby to latch on and get adequate suction, it can cause difficulties for the mother as well.
The tongue is also an important influence on the development of a child’s jaws. A child with tongue tie may not exert the pressure necessary to push the teeth and jaws outward to develop a full arch.
With an underdeveloped arch and a tongue that’s less mobile, children may experience speech difficulties, although this is not generally the case.
And as children’s teeth come in, the lack of development in their jaws can lead to crowding and other problems with their teeth. This can mean that they are more likely to need orthodontic treatment.
But straight teeth are only one small problem associated with a lack of jaw development. Jaw function may also be affected. This can manifest as temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ), bruxism, and other bite problems later in life.
Another important function of your jaw is to shape and support your airway. Children with tongue tie are more likely to develop sleep apnea, which may follow them throughout life.
Early treatment of lip and tongue tie can help children avoid these complications. Dr. Marzban works with IBCLC-certified lactation consultants to ensure your baby has the best possible results from treatment.
Correcting Lip and Tongue Tie
The good news is that the procedure for correcting lip and tongue tie is relatively simple. In a procedure that takes only seconds, a laser is used to remove the ties on the lip or tongue. It is also so painless that anesthesia isn’t generally required beyond a topical numbing cream.
Your child will likely be upset by the procedure, but should calm relatively quickly.
During follow-up care, watch for complications, which are rare, but can occur. Contact us or your pediatrician if your child develops a fever or refuses to eat.
Another important part of follow-up care is stretches that can help make sure your child’s lips and/or tongue doesn’t reconnect in the separated area. These should be done about four times a day for the first three weeks, then taper off during the fourth week.
Benefits of CO2 Laser Treatment
Although some people use a scalpel for releasing tongue tie, we utilize a CO2 laser, which has many advantages for your baby. With the CO2 laser, your baby will benefit from:
- Greater precision
- Less discomfort
- Less bleeding
- No contact with tool
We have chosen the CO2 laser procedure because we know it’s better for our patients.
Myofunctional Therapy after Tongue Tie Release
Although releasing lip and tongue tie makes your mouth free for development, this isn’t always enough for adults or older children. Instead, we may need to actively train your tongue and other muscles to encourage proper development of your jaw.
Myofunctional therapy is a technique that does exactly that. We will use exercises to train your tongue and other muscles into performing healthy motions that will both improve function and encourage development. This can be an essential part of achieving your aesthetic and functional goals.
If your child has been diagnosed with tongue tie and you are looking for treatment in Fairfax County, please call 703-323-8200 today for an appointment with Dr. Pamela Marzban in Burke, VA.