Any first-time mother who has chosen to breastfeed can tell you two things: it’s not easy, but it’s worth it. One thing that many breastfeeding mothers don’t realize is that their breastfeeding journeys are sometimes made unnecessarily more difficult due to a tongue or lip tie. A tongue or lip tie can affect the baby’s ability to breastfeed or even take a bottle or pacifier.
Tongue and lip ties are a common hurdle breastfeeding mothers face. But with the help of a knowledgeable Lactation Consultant and a frenectomy, both mother and baby can have a happy breastfeeding journey together, despite a tongue or lip tie.
What is a frenectomy?
A frenectomy is a simple surgical procedure to remove a frenulum, a small fold of tissue that prevents another body part from moving its full range of motion. When it comes to nursing babies, we’re mainly concerned with two types of frenula: labial and lingual.
Labial frenula – connects the upper lip to the gum tissue of the upper teeth (also called a lip tie)
Lingual frenula – connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth (also called a tongue tie)
Why is a frenectomy needed?
When a baby's labial or lingual frenula restrict the range of motion of either the upper lip or the tongue, it is referred to as a lip tie or a tongue tie. This prevents the baby from being able to fully or properly latch onto the breast, bottle, or pacifier. The baby can overcompensate by increased suction causing pain to the mother. In addition, the baby may have problems completely draining the breast of milk, which could lead to supply issues.
A frenectomy removes the small flap of skin so that the baby can latch properly and will learn to nurse more quickly and efficiently.
Does a frenectomy hurt my baby?
A frenectomy is typically performed in one of two ways: with scissors or with a laser. Both procedures are quick and simple, but laser procedures (such as the Solea Laser that we use at White River Dental) are considered to be nearly painless. With a laser procedure, there is virtually no bleeding, and little recovery time is needed. In our office, the procedure can be done in as little as 20 minutes.
More important than the method used for a frenectomy, however, is the skill of the dentist. Be sure to find a dentist who understands the effect a tongue or lip tie can have on breastfeeding. They will often provide a more complete frenectomy and be able to more appropriately diagnose the issue.
Below is a video of Dr. Strickland performing a frenectomy procedure on his own baby! Here you can see the procedure from start to finish, it only takes a few minutes with minimal fussing. His daughter, Stephanie, is a good sport through the procedure, check it out.
Does my baby need a frenectomy?
In addition to providing invaluable support to a new mother, a Lactation Consultant can often help diagnose a tongue or lip tie.
If you think your baby may need a frenectomy, schedule an appointment with White River Dental today. Dr. Aaron Strickland has the tools, experience, and knowledge to correct a tongue or lip tie in your new baby. In fact, as a new father himself, Dr. Strickland recently performed a frenectomy on his own daughter, and will use treat your baby with the same care!
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