Pediatric dentistry is an area of dentistry that focuses on the oral health of children. Starting good dental hygiene habits early in life is important. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states, more than 50% of children under the age of nine have had at least one cavity in their baby teeth, and…
What Should Parents Do About Newborn Tongue Tie?
A child with the condition called newborn tongue tie might have difficulty breastfeeding. This can deprive them of the nutrients that they need to grow. As the child gets older, being tongue-tied can lead to them having difficulty speaking.
Tongue tie is caused by the tissue that connects the floor of the mouth to the underbelly of the tongue (the frenulum) being too thick or tight. This restricts the child’s ability to move their tongue.
Newborn tongue tie sometimes occurs along with a condition called lip tie. Lip tie is caused by the frenum that connects the top of the mouth to the top of the lip being too thick or stiff. It hinders the child’s ability to move the top of their lip, and it can lead to orthodontic issues like abnormal spaces forming between teeth.
Dealing with newborn tongue tie
Obvious ways to spot if a child might have tongue tie is if they have a heart-shaped tongue, they are unable to lift their tongue from the floor of their mouth, or if they have a short tongue. Other signs that a child might have tongue tie include:
- Poor growth and weight gain
- Difficulty breastfeeding
- Smacking or clicking sounds when nursing
- Longer breastfeeding sessions
- A fussy baby
- Teeth grinding
- Pain when breastfeeding
- Cuts or blisters on nipples
A pediatric dentist can help with a diagnosis if parents think that their child might have tongue tie. The dentist can evaluate the child's frenum to determine the severity of the condition. Mild cases can often be improved with therapy, but serious structural defects might require a frenectomy.
In the past, frenectomies were performed with surgical knives, and patients had to be placed under anesthesia. Due to innovations in dentistry, the surgical knife for frenectomies has been replaced with a soft tissue laser, which painlessly cuts away and sculps tissues as needed. Most patients will have no need for anesthesia, and the recovery periods are significantly shorter. The laser cauterizes as it cuts into tissues being worked on, which promotes the healing process and reduces the risk of infection. Laser frenectomies are safe treatments that can be performed by a pediatric dentist on newborns, and the procedure has a high success rate.
Frequently asked questions about newborn tongue tie
Let us take a look at the answers to common questions about newborn tongue tie.
How do I determine if my child has tongue tie?
Common signs that a child has a tongue tie include having a heart-shaped tongue, not being able to stick out or lift their tongue, or having difficulty nursing. Parents can also determine if their child has a tongue tie by looking underneath their tongue to see if their frenum appears abnormally short. The only way to know for certain if a child has a tongue tie, though, is by getting a diagnosis from a healthcare professional like a pediatric dentist.
What type of breastfeeding issues do tongue ties cause?
Breastfeeding issues are often how parents realize that their child has a tongue tie. The condition makes it harder for the child to latch onto the parent's nipples, so the child might seem unsatisfied after feeding. Children with tongue ties are more likely not to grow according to the regular schedule. The breastfeeding parent often experiences symptoms like sore nipples and breast pain.
Do tongue ties hinder a child’s ability to bottle feed?
Tongue ties can affect a child’s ability to bottle feed. Children with tongue ties typically have an easier time feeding with a bottle than breastfeeding, but they can still struggle. Bottle feeding tends to be easier for babies with tongue ties simply because it is less challenging to drink out of a bottle. However, it should be noted that switching to bottle feeding to counter a child’s tongue tie is not considered to be an adequate solution for the problem.
Healing treatment makes a huge difference
Being tongue-tied makes it harder for your newborn to feed, and it makes breastfeeding more challenging. It can lead to poor nutrition and speech development as the child grows. If left unchecked, it can even result in health, speech, and dental issues.
A frenectomy can be completed in minutes, and it is a permanent solution to the problem. Give us a call or visit our Richmond clinic to set up an appointment with our dentist to see if your child has newborn tongue tie.
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