Very often, when a newborn has difficulty nursing, the last cause that is considered is a tongue-tie or a lip-tie. The difficulty in latching on can cause the new mother pain and restrict the amount of essential nutrition and calories the baby needs to develop properly and grow. Failure to gain weight, reflux, and colic may result. As the baby gets older, she may have problems making certain sounds causing a speech impediment. And this problem can continue to plague her as she matures into adulthood. In adulthood, tongue-ties or lip-ties can be the cause of migraines, neck pain, shoulder pain, and speech problems.
If you look in the mirror, you can see a strong cord of tissue under your tongue and upper lip. This structure is called a frenum and it is supposed to recede and thin out as we develop in the womb. When it doesn't, it may cause tongue and lip mobility problems. A tongue-tie is the layperson's term for a relatively common physical condition that limits the use of the tongue, ankyloglossia. Lip-tie is a condition where the upper lip cannot be curled or moved normally. Although it is sometimes attributed to genetics, doctors don't understand why it thins in some people and not in others. Obvious indicators of this condition are oral restrictions and speech impediments. Other signs may be an unusual curling and tightness of the top lip and a space between the two front teeth.
Babies as young as a few days old can have their tongue ties and lip ties repaired. Tongue-tie and lip-tie release is a simple procedure and there are virtually no complications when using a laser with good technique. The procedure may be performed as early as a couple of days after birth and throughout adulthood. The revision can be performed in the doctor's or dentist's our office with some numbing jelly. Older children receive some numbing medicine and laughing gas and usually report no pain at all during the procedure. The laser gently removes the tight tissue with virtually no bleeding and no stitches. For some older children, there will be an immediate difference in mobility of the tongue. Often speech is improved within a few minutes to a few weeks, but typically, speech therapy is still needed to help strengthen and improve function of the newly released tongue and lip. Tongue-ties and lip-ties can be easily and effectively resolved and save your child from of lifetime of many oral and speech issues.