Dental Laser Treatment
TONGUE AND LIP-TIE PROCEDURES
As one of the only Pediatric Dental offices in San Antonio that offers laser treatment for procedures like frenectomy (tongue-tie or lip-tie release), we want to answer any questions you may have about it.
What is a tongue-tie or lip-tie?
“Tongue-tie” or “lip-tie” are the common terms for physical conditions that limit the normal movement of the tongue or upper lip. When the frenum (the strong cord of tissue under the tongue or upper lip) develops and stays in the wrong position, this can cause something known as a tongue-tie or lip-tie. Having a tongue-tie can limit the tongue’s mobility, making it difficult to stick out past the bottom lip or even touch the roof of the mouth; this can result in difficulty eating in infants or mispronunciation of words in older children and adults. Having a lip-tie can limit the upper lip from being curled or moving normally; this can result in difficulty latching on or sucking as an infant or eating and mispronunciation of words in older children and adults.
Here at The Dentists for Kids, we treat infants as young as just a few days old that are experiencing difficulty eating. We also treat older children who need procedures for speech issues or closing a gap in their front teeth through orthodontic treatment.
As an infant or baby, some of the symptoms of tongue-tie or lip-tie include:
· Difficulty latching on or falling off easily when nursing
· Gumming or chewing the nipple while nursing
· Choking on milk or popping off to gasp for air while nursing
· Child is not able to fully drain breast or bottle
Some of the symptoms for a tongue-tie or lip-tie in older children include:
· Possible speech impediments
· Difficulty pronouncing sounds such as L, R, T, D, N, TH, SH, and Z
· Difficulty “rolling” the R in Spanish
· Difficulty chewing and swallowing food
· Receding gums at the attachment site
Treating a tongue-tie or lip-tie is a simple procedure when using a laser.
It is quicker, less painful (often requiring little to no numbing), includes little to no bleeding, no stitches, and a comfortable recovery. The doctor will use a little numbing jelly for infants, numbing medicine, and N20 (nitrous oxide or laughing gas) for older children. With infants we recommend nursing or feeding immediately after the procedure to help prevent infection with breast milk antibiotics and to stimulate movement for better wound healing.
Once this quick procedure has been performed, some patients can experience immediate results. In some instances, it can take a day or two for the tongue or lip to realize that is has extended mobility before it will begin to show improvement in eating or speech. Remember that the tongue is a muscle; it will need time to readapt to its new functioning mobility. Follow-up appointments are highly recommended soon after the procedure is performed, as babies under two months tend to exhibit faster results than those two months or older. When a tongue-tie is released due to speech impediment, we recommend continuing speech therapy to help control the tongue.
If you are wondering if your child has a possible tongue-tie or lip-tie, we recommend scheduling a consultation with the doctor. We are often able to offer same day treatment. We also provide post-treatment instructions to help prevent possible reattachment. After undergoing treatment, we recommend a one to two week follow up to ensure that healing is occurring as it should.