Frenectomies, Lip Ties, and Tongue Ties

TONGUE TIE AND LIP TIE RELEASES TO IMPROVE YOUR INFANT’S FEEDING

Lip ties and tongue ties occur when the small membranes that connect your mouth’s soft tissues (between your front teeth or between your tongue and the roof of your mouth) are thick or attached in a way that does not allow full mouth mobility.

Some of the key signs of an infant lip tie or tongue tie include poor latching by the infant and/or a painful breastfeeding experience. The main benefit of an infant frenectomy (a lip tie or tongue tie release) is improving the baby’s breastfeeding capability, including alleviating nursing pain for the mother. For a nursing baby, a tongue tie or lip tie release can make it easier for them to latch and feed and can also assist in averting speech and dental issues in later childhood.

Smiles of Austin has invested in the best technology available for this process, the CO2 soft tissue laser, and our knowledgeable, caring doctors are ready to help you improve your baby’s feedings and well being. Contact us for more information or to set up an evaluation.

 

HOW DO I KNOW IF MY INFANT NEEDS A LIP TIE OR TONGUE TIE RELEASE?

Symptoms related to lip ties and tongue ties in an infant can include colic, difficulty in consuming adequate milk, slow weight gain, gassiness, falling asleep during feedings, and difficulty in sustaining a latch or holding a pacifier.

Our doctors are very adept at diagnosing lip ties and tongue ties and determining the best way to move forward. We prefer to work in partnership with your other healthcare professionals – your pediatrician or International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) – so we can take the most conservative and holistic approach, only completing a lip or tongue tie release if it is truly necessary. If you are not currently working with a lactation consultant, our doctors can examine your infant, then recommend a lactation consultant with whom your family can consult.

 

WHAT MAKES A SMILES LIP TIE OR TONGUE TIE RELEASE DIFFERENT?

At Smiles of Austin and Smiles of Dripping Springs, our doctors are parents too, and we know how stressful it can be to consider a surgical procedure for a child. That’s why we’ve invested in the most advanced technology available to complete lip tie and tongue tie releases.

Smiles is the only dental practice in Austin, Dripping Springs and the surrounding areas that uses a CO2 soft tissue laser. This laser is the gentlest possible option; and, at the same time, it’s the quickest, easiest, most technologically advanced and most effective.

When using the CO2 soft tissue laser for a lip tie or tongue tie release, the procedure is completed within seconds; there’s no need for stitches or sutures; and there’s very little bleeding (often, patients experience no bleeding at all). In addition, our CO2 laser procedure has a faster healing time and creates less overall discomfort for the patient, which provides relief to all concerned – patients and parents alike!

 

WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT AT MY LIP TIE OR TONGUE TIE RELEASE CONSULTATION?

You will complete a health history form for your child, as well as a questionnaire regarding their feeding and your tongue tie or lip tie concerns.

Either Dr. Collins or Dr. Matson will perform a knee-to-knee exam or a lap exam with you and your infant. Once the exam is completed, the doctor will discuss findings and you can determine together whether your infant would benefit from a tongue or lip tie release procedure.

If it is determined that the lip tie or tongue tie release would be beneficial, it may be possible to complete it the same day. We’re committed to helping you alleviate feeding problems and we want mothers and babies to get on track with more comfortable, successful breastfeeding as soon as possible.

 

WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT DURING AND IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING THE PROCEDURE?

The procedure takes only a few moments – typically less than three minutes. The CO2 laser procedure is quick and virtually painless. We apply a topical anesthetic to help ease any discomfort. Here’s what you can expect if a lip tie or tongue tie release is recommended for your infant:

  • The doctor or an assistant will have you bring your child into our operative room for treatment.
  • Your infant will be prepared for the procedure with a velcro swaddle and protective eyewear.
  • The doctor will place topical anesthetic in the area where the frenectomy is to be performed to assist with the child’s comfort during the procedure.
  • We will then use our laser to swiftly and cleanly complete the lip tie or tongue tie release and return your infant to you as quickly as possible to begin feeding and comforting.
  • Immediately after the procedure, you will sit in the comfort of a private suite to nurse or bottle feed and soothe your child.

Following the procedure, we’ll cover a few topics with you to help you ensure a successful recovery.

  • We will ask you to nurse or bottle feed your infant immediately after the surgery.
  • We will review post-procedural care instructions, including a demonstration of exercises/stretches to assist with proper healing.
  • We will ask you to follow up with your lactation consultant within a few days of the procedure if you are still having difficulty with feeding.

 

HOW DO I TAKE CARE OF MY INFANT AFTER THE LIP TIE OR TONGUE TIE RELEASE?

Even though the procedure takes only a few seconds, you’ll need to monitor your child for the next several days. It can take 1-2 weeks for the area to completely heal, following a lip tie or tongue tie release.

  • The parent should nurse or bottle-feed the infant immediately following the procedure, both for comfort and to allow our team to evaluate the child.
  • Maintain normal oral hygiene, avoiding direct contact with the area of the surgery for the first 3-5 days. This will help avoid unwanted bleeding and promote faster healing.
  • If bleeding occurs, provide light pressure with moist gauze for 20-30 minutes.
  • Within a day after the procedure, the area of the surgery will begin to appear white and/or yellow, similar to pus. It is often mistaken as infection, but is a normal part of the healing process.
  • Your child may experience some discomfort for 3-5 days following surgery. Complete healing generally takes 1-2 weeks.
  • Dr. Collins or Dr. Matson will instruct you on daily exercises that will help with proper healing.
  • We will ask you to follow up with your lactation consultant within a few days following the procedure if you are still having trouble with feeding.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do we have frenums and is there any potential negative effect related to removing them?

None of the frenums in our mouths serve an important purpose. They are remnants left over from the band of tissue that initially helped guide the formation of our facial structures. In addition, the frenums have very little nerve tissue in them, another reason why the procedure is relatively painless for our patients.

Can I be in the room with my child while the procedure is taking place?

We want our team to have 100% focus directed toward your child during the short procedure. Because of the logistics of completing the lip tie or tongue tie release, parents wait in an adjacent room while the quick procedure is completed. Our team will bring your child to you immediately following the release so you can feed, soothe and comfort them.

Should I feed my baby immediately before the procedure?

Generally, no. The procedure only takes a few minutes and we want your infant to be hungry immediately following the procedure to help with soothing.

Will my insurance cover the procedure?

Each insurance policy is different, but our knowledgeable staff members will work with you and your insurance company to determine the best financial option for your family.

How do I get a referral from my doctor or IBCLC?

We generally receive a written request for the procedure, but we are happy to speak with your IBCLC or pediatrician directly.

How young is too young for a lip tie or tongue tie release?

These procedures can be completed for babies as young as 24 hours.

Are frenectomies only for infants? How do I know if my older child might benefit?

Lip tie and tongue tie releases can be beneficial for older children and adults as well. People with tight, thick, or highly attached frenums can suffer from a number of unpleasant symptoms, including:

  • Gingival recession
  • Difficulty achieving proper oral hygiene
  • Extra space between the front teeth
  • Difficulty with speech and pronunciation
  • Teeth misalignment
  • Impaired mobility of tongue and lips

Our quick and painless procedure allows our patients of all ages to move past these troubling symptoms and improve their oral health and overall well-being. If you would like our doctors to evaluate your child for a lip tie or tongue tie, please contact our office today and we’ll help you set up an evaluation.

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