Dr. Stacy Reece of Advanced Dentistry of Kearney has extensive experience performing lip-tie release surgery. Lip-tie is a condition present at birth where an usually tight or thick labial frenulum keeps the upper lip tethered to the gum line, restricting the movement of the upper lip. For some infants, lip-tie interferes with breastfeeding, as it is harder for the baby to flange the upper lip.
A labial frenum is a piece of soft tissue that is located in the front of the mouth between the upper lip and the upper gum and between the lower lip and the lower gum.
Causes of Lip-Tie
Ordinarily, the labial frenulum separates from the upper lip before birth, but for some infants, the frenulum remains attached. It is not entirely clear why this happens, but for some infants, this may be due to genetic factors.
Signs and Symptoms of Lip-Tie
The signs and symptoms of lip-tie include
Have a tight labial frenulum
Struggle with breastfeeding (e.g., unable to latch deeply or stay on breast)
Make a clicking sound
Splutter or choke on milk
Exhibit poor weight gain
Be excessively fussy or develop colic
Risk Factors for Lip-Tie
Lip-tie is more common in boys than in girls. It is a condition that sometimes runs in families.
Complications of Lip-Tie
Lip-tie can affect child development in the following ways:
Breastfeeding Problems. If an infant is unable to latch on the breast completely or stay on the breast, this can lead to inadequate nutrition and failure for an infant to thrive.
Speech Difficulties. In severe cases, the tension that some children experience with lip-tie may cause them some discomfort with mouth opening, and as a result, they may alter their oral anatomy to minimize pain, which could then impact speech.
Poor Oral Health. Once the upper front teeth erupt, tooth decay may occur because of residual milk in the baby’s mouth after feedings. Because milk and food may pool on top of the teeth, there is an increased risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health issues.
Diagnosis of Lip-Tie
During your consultation with Dr. Reece, she will look at the center of your baby’s lip, and try to lift it up. If it is difficult to lift the upper lip or the baby seems unable to move the upper lip, there may be a lip-tie.
Many babies who have lip-tie, also have tongue-tie. Dr. Reece will often evaluate these together.
Treatment for Lip-Tie
Not all children with lip-tie need surgery. If your baby is having issues with breastfeeding, you may want to consult with an international board-certified lactation consultant to help resolve any issues. If other measures do not help, Dr. Reece may recommend a lip-tie release.
Frenectomy. A labial frenectomy involves the removal of the frenum connecting the lip to the gums. Dr. Reece can perform this procedure with a pain-free laser treatment. The laser cauterizes the wound as it cuts, allowing for a short recovery period.
If you suspect your child has a lip-tie condition, contact Advanced Dentistry of Kearney at (308) 237-1311 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Reece.
Lip-Tie ReLEASE FAQs
When should a frenectomy be done?
Dr. Reece recommends that lip-tie release surgery be performed soon after a newborn is diagnosed because it will help alleviate any issues with breastfeeding, promote better oral health and speech development.
Is anesthesia needed for lip-tie release surgery?
For a frenectomy, a topical numbing gel may be applied once or twice before the procedure or a small amount of local anesthesia may be injected. Anesthesia is not always necessary for this procedure.
How long does lip-tie laser surgery take?
Typically, lip-tie laser surgery takes 1 to 2 minutes.
How long does lip-tie laser surgery take to heal?
It can take up to 2-4 weeks for patients to heal from lip-tie laser surgery.
Is lip-tie laser surgery painful?
Because there are few nerve endings in the area to be cut, the patient may experience only mild discomfort. If your baby is rather fussy after the procedure, talk to Dr. Reece about prescribing over-the-counter pain medicine.
Can a frenum grow back?
While a frenum cannot grow back, it can reattach if you don’t follow the after-care exercises Dr. Reece gives you to stretch your baby’s lips and tongue in the weeks after the procedure. These exercises will help prevent frenulum reattachment.
Are stitches required after lip-tie laser surgery?
Stitches are not normally required for lip-tie laser surgery, as the laser neatly and precisely cuts the soft tissue.
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