First, what is Ankyloglossia or tongue-tie?
Ankyloglossia, more commonly referred to as tongue-tie, is a congenital condition in which a child’s tongue remains attached to the bottom of their mouth. Babies are sometimes born with this condition, and it occurs when the thin strip of tissue connecting the tongue and the floor of the mouth is shorter than average. Unfortunately, the short frenulum restricts tongue mobility and can lead to difficulties with breastfeeding and speech delays. For this reason, parents of tongue-tied babies often seek a laser frenectomy procedure to correct the problem.
What is a laser frenectomy procedure?
Traditionally, tongue-ties and lip-ties were repaired by surgically removing the tissue with a scalpel. However, a laser frenectomy involves the laser excision of the frenulum and is performed with a soft-tissue laser. However, a soft tissue laser does not cut. Instead, the process is more like vaporization of the tissue, which occurs with the energy of light. For this reason, there is minimal discomfort with the laser, making it essentially a pain-free experience for your baby. Further, parents often appreciate the approach involved in a laser frenectomy as there is minimal bleeding as an outcome of the procedure. In addition, lasers sterilize at the touch and have little risk of creating infection, making the healing process quick.
How to Know if Your Baby Is Tongue-Tied and Can Benefit From a Frenectomy
It isn’t always apparent to new parents if their baby is suffering from a tongue-tie. Though your medical provider may identify the problem during a baby’s pediatric visit, there are signs and symptoms that parents should be on the lookout for. In particular, you may have a tongue-tied baby if you are experiencing any of the following situations.
- Mom dreads every breastfeeding session and it feels like it takes forever for your baby to feed.
- Your baby is slow to gain weight.
- Mom is experiencing pain when breastfeeding.
- Your baby is struggling to latch or unlatches frequently.
- Your baby becomes excessively tired after nursing.
- Your baby is making a clicking sound while suckling.
- It appears as though your baby is struggling to breathe while eating.
- Your baby’s lip is white right after unlatching, which means the lip is tucked in during feeding.
- Mom’s nipples are sore after nursing.
Thankfully, with a laser frenectomy procedure from Spinnaker Pediatric Dentistry in Salem, Oregon, both mom and baby can find relief.
Advantages of a Laser Frenectomy Procedure
Not every baby needs both their lip or tongue revised. In some cases, the baby only has a tongue-tie and not a lip-tie. The Spinnaker Pediatric Dentistry team will do a full evaluation of your baby, assessing their anatomy, function, appearance, and movement of their tongue and lip. After the assessment, Drs. Cooper or Day will discuss treatment options with you to determine if a laser frenectomy would benefit your tongue-tied or lip-tied baby. And laser frenectomy is just one of the procedures we can provide using state-of-the-art laser dentistry.
In the meantime, you should understand that there are a wide variety of benefits associated with a laser frenectomy procedure.
- Only takes one or two minutes
- Very little bleeding
- Sutures are not needed
- No general anesthesia or sedation needed
- Rapid healing and recovery
- Minimal pain or discomfort
- Very little chance for re-attachment
- Minimally invasive procedure
- The baby can be fed immediately after the procedure
- Very little chance of infection
What to Expect After a Frenectomy
Your baby should be able to feed immediately after their laser frenectomy. Drs. Cooper and Day will strongly encourage immediate feeding so that your baby can quickly experience a more productive feeding. Additionally, we will encourage you to conduct stretching exercises a few times per day for about four weeks after the procedure. These exercises are designed to prevent re-attachment of open wounds and are exceptionally important for infants.
If your baby was lip-tied prior to the procedure, you will need to conduct an upper lip stretch. Do this by placing your index finger under your child’s lip. Next, move your finger upward until you are met with resistance. Now, gently move your finger side to side for a couple of seconds to keep the raw surfaces of your baby’s lip and gum separated. Doing this exercise will help prevent the wounds from sticking together and reattaching.
After your child’s laser frenectomy for a tongue-tie will be encouraged to do under-the-tongue stretching exercises for the next three or four weeks. Start by placing both of your index fingers under the tongue in a diving-type motion to get deep enough to lift effectively. Next, lift your baby’s tongue toward the palate as high as it will go and keep it lifted for two to five seconds.
For the next exercise after a tongue-tie frenectomy, prop up your child’s tongue with one index finger and place the other index finger sideways in the center. Then, push toward the floor of the mouth for a few seconds and use a sweeping or lifting motion, front to back, through the diamond you see in the mouth, to keep the fold in the center separated.
Finally, place your index fingers on either side and just outside of the diamond in your baby’s mouth. Massage the area around the diamond. This exercise will loosen the musculature of the tongue and mouth floor.
Spinnaker Pediatric Dentistry provides laser frenectomy procedures for tongue-tied and lip-tied babies.
If you have a tongue-tied or lip-tied baby and you live in or near Salem, Oregon, the dentists at Spinnaker Pediatric Dentistry can help. So if you have been searching for a gentle dentist in Salem for a frenectomy, look no further. Request an appointment by using our online form, or give our office a call.
At Spinnaker Pediatric Dentistry, we are more than a dental practice that sees and serves children, and our patients know it. Our dentists are true pediatric dental care providers, and it’s just one of the many reasons we are known as the best pediatric dentists in Salem. Few dentists are as dedicated to kids’ dentistry as specifically as we are. At our practice, everything we do is exclusively geared toward children, and we would want it no other way. So see why Spinnaker Pediatric Dentistry is the best dentist for your baby’s tongue-tie procedure.