Published on June 5, 2018, Updated on June 5, 2018
Lip and tongue-ties happen to countless babies. This is when an infant is born with a tongue or lip connection to the gums or under the tongue. Many dentists simply cut the gum tissues that are connected, which is what an infant frenectomy is called. However, there is a better way with laser dentistry for infant frenectomies. Find out how laser dentistry avoids the cutting and blood usually associated with an infant frenectomy!
Many new mothers may have an infant that struggles to eat or is not meeting their weight goals, without knowing what is causing it. If you are a new parent, or even new to this phenomenon, then you may be surprised to learn that your infant is tongue- or lip-tied. This is when an infant has extra gum tissue that is attaching the upper or lower gum line to the lips, or attaching the tongue to the floor of the mouth more than it should.
This connection happens often enough that family and general dentists usually offer services to fix an infant frenectomy. The frenum or frenulum of the mouth is the part of the mouth where gum tissue is attached. This is usually in the upper gum line just under the upper lip or underneath the tongue. However, the bottom lip can also be attached more than normal.
Everyone has some sort of attachment where their lips attach to the gums and the tongue attaches to the bottom of the mouth. However, too much attachment can make it hard for an infant to close their mouth properly for feeding. This can prevent an infant from being able to suck or suck correctly, or to even be able to close their mouth all the way around something to create suction.
To determine if your child has a tongue-or lip-tie, you will have to observe your infant’s mouth. Is there an attachment underneath either the top or bottom lip. If so, how large is the attachment? Everyone should have a small attachment in these areas just inside the upper and lower lips. However, that attachment should be minimal. If you notice that it’s difficult to pull either of the lips outward or the tongue doesn’t move around much, then there could be an attachment. You will have to schedule an appointment with us or for your child’s primary care physician to be sure.
Some children will have only one attachment, but it is possible for a child to have a tongue attachment and one or both of the lips attached. Infants can only receive some forms of anesthesia, which will only be an Orajel-type cream. The area is numbed as best as possible and a dentist will make precise incisions to free the attachment. That means, the gum or tongue attachment is physically cut or snipped, which will result in some bleeding, pain and dental stitches that will dissolve over time.
In the past, the only option to fix a tongue- or lip-tie was to surgically cut the gum tissue. However, this is a surgical procedure, and one that a newborn or infant is receiving. Surgery comes with healing time, stitches, pain and more, which can be hard on a small infant. That is why more dentists are choosing to perform an infant frenectomy with laser light. Laser dentistry is a modern option for many dentists to use in the treatment of gum and tooth problems. Some facilities only provide services that utilize laser light.
Laser dentistry tools are ones that involve focused beams of laser light. Using that focused beam, a dentist can cut a tongue- or lip-tie without anesthesia. If a parent watches an infant frenectomy using laser light, they will see the attachment gradually disappearing as the laser light is moving farther back towards the gums. Although it is still a form of cutting, it is much different for a patient than a traditional infant frenectomy.
If your child has a tongue- or lip-tie, we recommend that you consider laser dentistry for the infant frenectomy. Laser light is an amazing dental tool for treating and removing tooth decay and for correcting problems with a patient’s gums. An infant frenectomy would fall under those categories. Using a focused beam of laser light, a dentist can move the laser back and forth along the gum or lip attachment in a continuous horizontal motion.
Laser light is an amazing tool, as it can slowly trim back the area, sealing the gum tissue immediately as it goes. There is little to no bleeding at all, and many infants are perfectly fine in the dental chair as the procedure is done. Because laser light is used instead of cutting, nerve endings that generally cause pain are sealed off as soon as they are severed. If an infant cries, it is generally due to fear of dental assistants and a dentist surrounding the child instead of the actual procedure.
Frenectomies using lasers have been done on teens and adults, which has resulted in little to no pain, which is what an infant experiences. Infection risk is minimal when you use lasers and patients have faster healing and regeneration. If you want a virtually pain-free way to do an infant frenectomy, opt for laser dentistry instead of cutting for your little one.
Don’t know if your child has a tongue- or lip-tie? You can find out today by using your free infant dental exam at our dental office! When a child has a tongue- or lip-tie, they will struggle with nursing, bottle-feeding, speech development and more. When your child struggles, you struggle. We provide a free infant dental exam for new young patients because their oral health is simply that important! To take advantage of this dental exam, call Hardy Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics at (720) 887-6003!