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Infant Care in Edmonton

Uptown Dental Centre

Infant frenectomies become necessary when the frenum, a muscular attachment situated beneath the upper and lower lips and under the tongue, is excessively taut. The primary purpose of the frenum is to offer support and stability to the tongue and lips. 

If the frenum is short and constricted, it can limit the movement of the lips and/or tongue. This constraint can create difficulty for infants during breastfeeding, causing pain for the mother and discomfort and frustration for the baby. Additionally, a shortened frenum can impact the development of the jaw and face, leading to crooked teeth as the child grows. Insufficient functionality of the tongue and lips caused by tight frenums can also affect the child’s ability to speak, swallow, chew, and breathe. In certain cases, shortened frenums can result in sleep-disordered breathing in infants, which is characterized by breathing pauses during sleep.

Infant Frenectomies: Lip and Tongue Ties Releases

When the muscular attachment called frenum, located under the upper and lower lip and beneath the tongue, is excessively tight, it may be necessary to perform infant frenectomies. The purpose of the frenum is to provide support for the lips and tongue. However, if the frenum is short and tight, it can restrict the movement of the tongue and/or lips, making it challenging for the baby to breastfeed, which may result in discomfort and frustration for both the baby and the mother. Furthermore, a short frenum can impact jaw and face development, leading to misaligned teeth as the child grows. Additionally, the limited functionality of the lips and tongue caused by a tight frenum can hinder a child’s ability to breathe, chew, swallow, and speak. In certain cases, a short frenum may even cause sleep-disordered breathing in infants, resulting in pauses in breathing during sleep.

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What is a Tongue Tie?

At birth, babies possess a delicate tissue layer known as the lingual frenulum under their tongue. However, around 5-12% of infants are born with a lingual frenulum that is excessively tight, which can impede the range of motion and flexibility of their tongue. This restriction can cause problems with breastfeeding, such as a weak latch, discomfort, and injury to the mother’s nipple, as well as reduced milk intake and milk production. The medical condition that describes this issue is known as ankyloglossia or tongue tie. Research indicates that this condition is genetic.

Diagnosing tongue and lip ties

It is not always necessary to perform a frenectomy on a frenum. The decision to perform a frenectomy is based on the assessment of the function and movement of the tongue or lips, as well as the symptoms caused by the frenum. The appearance of the frenum alone is not enough to determine the need for the procedure. Therefore, it is essential to have a professional evaluation by a trained healthcare provider to ensure that the infant receives the appropriate treatment.

Tongue and lip ties can be treated by performing a frenectomy, also known as tongue tie release or lip tie release. This procedure is safe and quick, and it can improve the mobility and function of the tongue and lip. Frenectomies can also prevent dental decay and spacing, avoid speech difficulties, and address digestive issues. Furthermore, they can help optimize the baby’s facial and oral development.

What happens after a frenectomy?

After a frenectomy procedure, the baby is immediately returned to the mother for their first breastfeeding session, and our on-staff lactation consultant will offer guidance and support to assist with the first latch after the procedure. During the first week after the frenectomy, it is common for the baby to be fussy and sometimes inconsistent in their feedings due to post-operative discomfort. Our team provides a post-op care brochure that outlines several strategies to help soothe the baby during this time. Dr. Stas will also provide exercises and stretches to be done for the baby during the first six weeks to ensure a successful frenectomy. It is essential to keep up with these prescribed exercises and stretches consistently, as failure to do so can result in the frenums regrowing and the breastfeeding issues returning. Dr. Stas will schedule a check-up appointment a week after the frenectomy to ensure there is no frenum reattachment and assess for post-op complications.

Frenectomy is a safe and fast procedure that can take less than 2 minutes to perform. Dr. Stas will offer to do the procedure right after the assessment without having to delay treatment and wait for a separate appointment. An infant swaddle is used to keep the baby calm, and special infant laser glasses are put on to protect their eyes during the procedure. Our staff always keeps two hands on the baby to ensure their safety during the short duration of the treatment. We recommend continued collaboration with a lactation consultant to establish a proper latch and ensure success for both mother and baby in breastfeeding.

How and why do ties affect breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding requires proper tongue mobility in order for the baby to latch correctly and effectively draw milk from the breast. If a baby has a tongue or lip tie, it can make it difficult for them to latch properly and take in enough milk. This can cause pain and discomfort for the mother, as well as a decrease in milk supply. Additionally, if the baby is only able to feed through the mother’s milk let-down reflex, they may not be getting enough milk overall. If a mother is unable to breastfeed due to her baby’s tongue or lip tie, she may resort to bottle feeding, which can have negative effects on the baby’s orofacial development.

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