Lip Ties in Infants
If your infant's labial frenulum extends completely down the gums to the tooth line, it could be what's known as an upper lip tie. While uncommon, babies with lip ties can have difficulty breastfeeding, according to a case report in the Archives of Craniofacial Surgery.
But difficulty doesn't mean impossibility. A position statement issued by the Australian Collaboration for Infant Oral Research (ACIOR) in the journal Australasian Dental Practice states that a surgical procedure isn't needed for breastfeeding an infant with a lip tie. La Leche League International offers breastfeeding techniques to address this issue. Or you can arrange for a personalized consultation with a breastfeeding expert.
However, if your baby's lip tie prevents breastfeeding, a surgical procedure, known as a frenotomy, typically can correct it. Successful surgery and post-op usually occur as follows:
- The procedure itself involves removing the part of the labial frenulum extending beyond the normal range, often using a dental laser.
- Your baby most likely will be able to breastfeed immediately. The release of the lip tie allows the infant's mouth to open wider and attach more easily. Few babies need medication after the procedure.
- You should stretch and massage the labial frenulum several times a day for several weeks to ensure:
- The area heals properly.
- The tissue doesn't reattach.
If your baby doesn't have surgery, be assured that the labial frenulum tissue usually corrects itself over time as your child grows. For extra assurance, take your baby to the dentist by their first birthday. That way, your dental professional can identify any oral disorders. And your child can become familiar with the dental office and the professionals who work there.
Did You Know? An upper lip tie can create a gap between the two front baby teeth, known clinically as a diastema. This gap might also affect permanent teeth.