A prominent frenum or frenulum, commonly known as a tongue- or lip-tie, is a condition that is present at birth that restricts movement of the tongue. The condition is formed during early fetal development and usually affects both the lip and the tongue. Nearly 10% of people have a tongue or lip tie. Correcting a tongue- or lip-tie is done through a simple procedure called a frenectomy. We encourage you to schedule a consultation appointment at our office if you think you may have tongue tie and are interested in correcting it.
Problems with Tongue- or Lip-Tie
In an infant, the earliest sign of a problem due to a tongue- or lip-tie is painful and ineffective breastfeeding. An ineffective latch happens because the lip is unable to fully lift, and the restriction of tongue movement causes problems drawing out the milk. A baby who is bottle-fed and has a tongue-tie can also experience difficulty feeding too, although this is not as common. Problems due to ineffective feeding often lead to fussiness and poor weight gain.
If a tongue- or lip-tie goes uncorrected, it can affect speech and dental development as the child grows. A tongue that is tied is unable to rest in its proper position, which can cause an undeveloped jaw structure. It can also lead to a higher probability of the child needing braces and having breathing issues. In most cases, performing a frenectomy procedure in infants is a safe and recommended treatment to correct feeding issues and preventing problems in the future.
The procedure is quick and minimally invasive, using a laser to release the tie. This results in the lip and tongue being able to move freely and normally immediately following the procedure. In infants, anesthetic is not used to allow for immediate feeding after the procedure. Numbing medication will be used in older patients.
After the procedure, the area will appear white and gray. Although its appearance may look worrisome, this is a normal part of the healing period. In older patients, stretching exercises will be provided and are an important part of achieving the best possible outcome. In infants, be sure to gently massage the affected area with a clean finger before every feeding for the next one to two weeks. It is also important to retrain the baby’s latch — make sure the upper lip is flipped out during feeding.
The frenectomy procedure is one that involves little risk. If you notice anything unusual, such as prolonged bleeding or infection, or if you have any questions about your recent frenectomy, please call our office right away. We are always happy to help.
Frenectomy in Aliso Viejo, CA
If you or your child suffers from a tongue-tie or lip-tie, an oral surgeon can provide the treatment needed to restore oral function. You can learn more about a frenectomy procedure by contacting our office and scheduling a consultation appointment.