Try to swallow without letting the back of your tongue touch the roof of your mouth. Now try talking while holding the tip of your tongue to the back side of your lower teeth. Both are pretty tough to do well, but that is how babies that have extra skin tying down their tongue or lip can feel.
As a mom and dentist, I understand the desperation in wanting a happy, healthy baby. Ankyloglossia or tongue-tie is something that approximately 5% of babies may have, but can be overlooked. It can cause difficulty when your baby tries to nurse. The infant cannot latch adequately, so feeding is difficult and you may notice a blister on the top lip of the infant. The infant may swallow a lot of air and become reluctant to nurse or frequently spit up. For mothers, irritation and pain are not uncommon. That toe curling sensation at latch should not last forever!
The upper lip is another common place that needs evaluated. If tongue and lip ties are left untreated, children may have difficulty eating, crowded teeth, a space between the upper front teeth, and a narrow palate which complicates breathing, speech problems, and snore.
The condition is easily treated with a procedure called a frenectomy. Advanced Dental Care treats both children and infants. By using a soft tissue laser, we are able to relieve the extra skin comfortably with no sedation and using only topical gel. The procedure takes about 10 minutes and the results are immediate. I have seen the positive impact that it has had for families and it is truly amazing. After treating her infant son, one patient told me, ‘It was the best thing that we ever did!’
There is no reason to put off treatment. The sooner that the restriction is revised, the sooner that the infant can swallow, and it is more comfortable for all.
Here is a checklist of symptoms (taken from Dr Bobby Ghaheri, MD):
- Poor latch
- Falls asleep while attempting to nurse
- Slides off the nipple when attemping to latch
- Colic symptoms
- Reflux symptoms
- Poor weight gain
- Gumming or chewing of your nipple when nursing
- Unable to hold a pacifier in his or her mouth
- Short sleep episodes requiring feeding every 2-3 hours
- Creased, flattened or blanched nipples after nursing
- Cracked, bruised or blistered nipples
- Bleeding nipples
- Severe pain when your infant attempts to latch
- Poor or incomplete breast drainage
- Infected nipples or breasts
- Plugged ducts
- Mastitis or nipple thrush