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Tongue and lip ties occur in 10% of babies and half may have feeding problems. Tongue and lip ties can be a real bother for many children…….and also for their mothers.

 

Baby symptoms; Colic, reflux and gassy, failure to gain weight and thrive, difficulty latching, slipping off, inability to make a seal on the breast or bottle teat, chewing nipples, calloused or blistered upper and lower lips.

 

Mother symptoms; painful latch due to biting on the nipples, flattened, creased or blanched nipples, cracked, bleeding nipples, plugged ducts, mastitis, engorgement, thrush.

 

Toddler symptoms; difficulty chewing lumpy foods, cavities in front teeth, messy, slow eating, excessive dribbling and sore lips.

 

At Rainbird House Dental we can assess these ties in new-borns, infants and children and discuss the options to release them where necessary. We offer laser treatment to release the ties comfortably and safely.

 

The attachment of the underside of the tongue to the bottom of the mouth sometimes forms a tight vertical tie. The tongue is an important muscle, capable of moving in several directions, needed for essential suckling, swallowing and speech. The early development of the tongue is guided by the thin strip of tissue, which should then disappear before birth as it has no further function. However, it can persist and result in a restriction of the range of movement of the tongue. When this occurs, the child may first have difficulty with breastfeeding. Typically, this results in painful or maybe even totally unsuccessful feeding. With persistence some babies are able to adapt their suckling pattern, others are unable to and have to switch to bottle feeding. The tongue movements required to feed from a bottle are different to breastfeeding. Later, persistence of the tie affects swallowing. Chewing solid food may be a problem, speech development and dental health can be affected. Some adults also have continuing problems.

Tongue ties that attach the front of the tongue are easy to see, but often the significant restriction affects the back of the tongue (posterior tongue tie) and this can be difficult to spot. Assessment from an experienced professional is needed to ensure that all the necessary tongue movements are possible. Assessments are available for all ages, from infants upwards.

 

The Procedure

Tongue tie division is a minor procedure using laser release. The laser offers a quick, precise and painless procedure suitable for any age. Lasers seal the skin as the tongue tie is released, allowing quick healing with no bleeding and reduces the risk of reattachment. The procedure takes a few moments and can improve feeding within a few days or weeks.

 

The benefits of tongue tie release are usually felt immediately, however full support including help with breastfeeding with a professional lactation consultant, stretching and swallowing exercises and osteopathy if needed are all part of the service.