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What is a Lip and Tongue Tie? – McKinney, TX

The Reason Your Child’s Oral Function is Restricted

A baby sticking its tongue out after having its tongue tie in McKinney released

Unsure what that band of tissue underneath your child’s tongue or beneath their lips is called? If you’ve noticed that your little one is having difficulty breastfeeding, taking a bottle, or is unable to keep a pacifier in his or her mouth, it is likely that they have a lip or tongue-tie that is restricting their ability to perform normal oral functions. At Sprout Dentistry for Kids, Dr. Justin and Dr. Sage are both highly experienced and qualified board-certified pediatric dentists treating lip and tongue tie in McKinney. As fathers with children that also experienced lip and tongue tie, Dr. Justin and Dr. Sage understand first-hand the difficulties that can come with this type of problem. Fortunately, there are ways to fix it and release the band of tissue, allowing your child to move their lips and/or tongue freely. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment if you believe your child may have a lip or tongue tie.

How Does a Lip or Tongue Tie Occur?

A mother and her child sitting in the nursery while she kisses her baby on the cheek

Most of us are born with some form of lip or tongue tie, but in many cases, these bands of tissue pose no problem as we develop into childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. During a process known as apoptosis, which occurs during fetal development, the frenum should separate; however, if this band of tissue does not separate from the gingiva or gums of the upper jaw or floor of the mouth, it results in a baby having a lip or tongue that can be restricted in its movements.

While the reasons for this lack of separation are uncertain, some evidence indicates there may be a genetic pre-disposition, as the condition can run in the family.

What Problems Can Develop as a Result of a Lip or Tongue Tie?

A baby lying on its stomach and smiling while a bottle of milk sits within arm’s reach

Mother’s may have experienced some of the issues during their child’s infancy:

Babies who have a lip or tongue tie can potentially experience a wide range of problems, some of which include:

If the problem persists beyond infancy and into childhood and adolescence, children can experience speech difficulties, breathing problems, or have a hard time eating and swallowing. It also poses a significant problem when it comes to maintaining good oral health, as a child and/or adult cannot effectively remove food debris from the teeth or mouth because of the restricted movement of the tongue. This can lead to tooth decay, the formation of caries (cavities), and the development of gingivitis, especially if proper oral hygiene habits are not practiced regularly. More importantly, in severe cases of lip and tongue tie can result in changes to a child’s facial growth and development if left undiagnosed and untreated.

Older children and even adults may show signs of some of the wide range of problems, which may include:

How is a Lip or Tongue Tie Treated?

A happy baby with blue eyes lying on its stomach and clasping its hands while smiling

If you believe your child has a lip or tongue tie, it is best if you get them in to see their pediatric dentist in McKinney. Both Dr. Justin and Dr. Sage are well-versed in performing laser frenectomies, which is the most common procedure for correcting a lip or tongue tie. Dr. Justin and Dr. Sage are devoted to being a support system for improving your child’s overall wellness. We emphasize a multi-disciplinary team approach for the greatest improvements. This team includes the parents, possible consultation and treatment with lactation specialists, speech / feeding / myofunctional therapists, chiropractors, or osteopathic physicians.

Dr. Justin and Dr. Sage will perform a detailed history taking for signs symptoms attributed to Tethered Oral Tissues. We evaluate lip, tongue and cheeks for other potential areas of restriction. We use the SOLEA Co2 Laser to perform frenectomies to reduce pain, bleeding, and post-operative inflammation.

Prior to using the procedure, we will first apply a topical anesthetic before using the laser to precisely ablate the tissue and allow for free-range movement of the lip and/or tongue. The entire treatment typically takes a few minutes to complete, and the laser’s ability to cauterize while it cuts helps to prevent any bleeding and sterilizes the tissue. This is important because it significantly reduces the chances of infection.

Once the procedure is complete, you will need to help your little one exercise their tongue and lip through stretching activities to prevent the healing tissues from reattaching. You will receive detailed instructions from us on various stretching exercises that you will need to perform on your child’s lip and/or tongue to encourage healing while maintaining a greater increased range of motion and reducing the risk of reattachment. The tissue should be fully healed within 1 to 2 weeks, but stretching exercises are highly recommended and encouraged for at least 4 weeks to obtain the best overall improvements to symptoms.

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