As a parent, you notice the little things your baby does. Lately, you’ve been noticing some odd habits like clicking and suckling while they’ve been feeding. You want them to grow up happy and healthy and have the foundation they need to maintain their precious smile for years to come. When you start doing some research, you find that children often have lip and tongue ties that can affect their ability to feed. Fortunately, your dentist can help. Read on to learn about what a laser frenectomy is and how it could benefit your little one.
Infant Laser Frenectomy – Chicago, IL
Freedom from Lip and Tongue Tie
What Is a Frenectomy?
A frenulum is an oral tissue that connects each lip to the gums, and the tongue to the mouth floor. Sometimes, these tissues can cause a baby to have difficulty feeding because they restrict their oral movement. When this happens, your dentist can loosen or remove troublesome frenulums.
Recent technological advancements have made frenectomy procedures more effective, efficient, and virtually painless. Your dentist will use a precise soft tissue laser that allows them to pinpoint a particular area that needs to be treated without altering any surrounding oral tissue. The precision of this instrument allows for a faster and easier recovery. This procedure only takes a couple of minutes per frenulum, and it doesn’t require any incisions or stitches.
Types of Frenectomies and Frenuloplasties
During a laser frenectomy, a dentist removes a frenulum altogether. During a laser frenuloplasty, the frenulum is merely altered to the point where it no longer restricts proper movement of the oral structures. Although these procedures can be performed on either children or adults, they’re most often done for children, typically within the first year of their life. Treating children with lip or tongue tie early in their life can prevent future complications.
Why a Frenectomy Is Needed
Left untreated, lip and tongue tie can lead to a number of issues for your child. For example, they may not be able to latch properly during breastfeeding. As a mother, you experience painful, sore nipples. Such feeding difficulties are only the beginning of the problems that might ensue from lip and tongue tie. As your child grows, they may experience speech problems, have aversions to certain textures of food, and develop an oral myofunctional disorder, such as tongue thrust. Tongue thrust, wherein a person places the tongue too far forward in the mouth, can interfere with normal dental development. Children also often suffer from behavioral issues and lowered self-esteem because the way a lip or tongue tie affects their ability to speak and eat.
Benefits of a Laser Frenectomy
It used to be that doctors employed old-fashioned scalpels and sutures to perform frenectomies and frenuloplasties. However, many professionals now use lasers to carry out these procedures. Choosing a highly trained doctor to perform a laser frenectomy can offer your baby countless benefits:
- A treatment time of only a couple minutes
- No bleeding or stitches
- Little to no discomfort
- Minimally invasive
- Fast healing and recovery time
- Immediate feeding improvements
Frenectomies and Orthodontics
There are a number of ways in which lip and tongue tie can affect a child’s orthodontic development. For example, tongue thrust can cause the jaw to take on an irregular shape as well as cause gaps between the teeth. A frenulum that connects to the gums at the level where the teeth emerge can also lead to improper dental spacing.
If your child undergoes a frenectomy early enough, it may be possible to avoid such issues. However, if you child already has many of their teeth, their lip or tongue tie may lead to the need for a more complex treatment plan. Dr. Dale, our practice’s expert orthodontist, will evaluate such issues and design a treatment plan that may include both a frenectomy and orthodontic intervention.
Frequently Asked Questions about Laser Frenectomies
Before your child undergoes any procedure, we want to make sure you understand everything you want and need to know. Here are our responses to some common questions we get from parents—we hope they put your mind at ease. If you have other questions about your child’s frenectomy, don’t hesitate to contact our practice. We’ll be happy to answer them for you!
Will you put my child to sleep?
In most cases, we do not use sedation for laser frenectomies. This procedure is so gentle that we may not even need to use local anesthetic! During your consultation, we’ll discuss and create a treatment plan customized to your child’s needs and your concerns.
What are other symptoms of tongue or lip ties?
Other than trouble with breastfeeding, symptoms include difficulty eating solid foods, mouth breathing during sleep, speech problems (such as stuttering, lisps, and struggling with bi-labial sounds), and having an open mouth when at rest. If you think your child may need a frenectomy, you can schedule an appointment with us, and we’ll provide honest, helpful insight into your child’s oral development.
How long is the procedure and recovery?
Laser frenectomies usually take around five minutes to complete. However, the appointment could take longer because we want to make sure you’re fully informed and your little one is comfortable before we get started. Recovery time can vary, but your child shouldn’t feel much (if any) discomfort two to five days after the procedure.
How soon after the procedure can I feed my child?
Almost immediately. In fact, breastfeeding soon after the procedure provides your baby with much-needed antibodies and nutrients for healing and kickstarts natural feeding instincts. For toddlers or older children, as soon as the local anesthetic wears off, they are free to eat, but we recommend waiting at least 24 hours before giving them hot, spicy, or cold foods and waiting until the site is fully healed before having hard, crunchy foods.
Will my child need other therapies or treatment after the frenectomy?
In infants, the issue is typically resolved right away, but keep in mind that lactation specialists may be able to offer more guidance and assistance if necessary. If your child is older, they may require additional therapies to address their eating habits, speech patterns, and more. When we evaluate your child, we can recommend treatments and specialists to help your child fully recover and benefit from the procedure.