The Most Natural Way…
Breastfeeding is the most natural way for a mom to nourish and bond with her baby. It not only delivers nutrition and immunologic protection but also promotes your baby’s ability to suck properly. Breastfed infants have to work much harder at the breast; however, bottle-fed babies also need to be able to control their tongue when they swallow. A good functional sucking encourages ideal growth and development of the airway and other structures of the mouth.
A Good Latch is Essential…
A wide gape is vital to a deep latch. Your baby’s lips should flange out and the tongue should be able to lift the nipple against the palate. When your baby has a good latch, milk is transferred faster and more efficiently. A restricted tongue or lip may interfere with your baby’s ability to latch properly. When the upper lip is tight, it gets pushed against the nose thus reducing the ability for your baby to create a good seal and breathe normally. In the case of a tongue-tie, the tongue does not extend to guide the nipple on to the back of the tongue so that it can then elevate and compress the nipple against the palate to express the milk. This failure to latch properly can be frustrating and painful for both you and the baby.
Signs and Symptoms of a Tongue-Tie or a Lip-Tie
- Weak Latch
- Slips off the nipple
- More frequent feedings
- Fatigue during feeding – Baby falls asleep
- Clicking or gulping noises
- Frequent spit-ups or vomiting
- Gagging, coughing or choking
- Lip blisters
- Chewing on the nipple
- Head bopping – Fighting at the breast
- Frequent gassiness and hiccups
- Unable to hold a pacifier
- Poor weight gain & growth pattern
- Cracked, blistered & raw bleeding nipples
- Plugged ducts
- Discomfort or pain while nursing
- Gummed, flattened nipples
- Thrush or mastitis
- Reduced milk supply
- Long nursing sessions
The Need to Treat
Nursing should be a pleasant experience and not painful for the baby or the mother. Babies need to eat in order to survive. When a baby refuses the breast or is having difficulties to nurse, something must be interfering with normal function. As a mom, you may instinctively know something is not right. Sadly, tongue-ties and lip-ties often go undetected, misdiagnosed or treated as a non-medical issue. When it comes to lip-ties and tongue-ties, no two people are quite the same. A tongue may look tied but not act like it’s tied. Posterior hidden ties are not be visible but may cause a lot of problems. The decision to treat a tie can only be achieved with an assessment process that includes an evaluation of the medical history, feeding history, symptoms and physical examination of the baby as well as an evaluation of the mother’s discomfort.
Laser Surgery… A Fast, Simple and Safe Treatment Alternative
Laser surgery is the state-of-the-art solution to a lip-tie or a tongue-tie and it can be done just a few days after your baby is born. Our Light Scalpel CO2 laser offers a kinder treatment than scissors or scalpel, and is ultimately safer. The tie is released in seconds with almost no discomfort. There is little to no bleeding, and the chance of an inadvertent cut is significantly minimized due to the extremely precise control afforded by the laser. After the procedure, the recovery is relatively quick. In many cases, we encourage the baby to latch to the breast or bottle almost immediately after surgery.
Untreated Ties… a lifetime of possible complications
Children with untreated restrictive tongue-ties will eventually develop compensatory behaviors to be able to eat, speak and thrive. These compensations may cause the development of further complications. An older child or an adult with a tongue-tie may have other difficulties such as:
- Improper bite
- Propensity to allergies
- Eating with an open mouth
- Inability to chew certain foods (Picky eater)
- Swallowing difficulties, gagging and oral aversions
- Stuttering, Lisps
- Speech delays or articulation problems
- Propensity to dental cavities, gingivitis and gum recession
- Sleep Related Breathing Disorder and Sleep Apnea
- Uncontrollable salivation
- Reflux, bloating and constipation
- Shoulder & neck pain
Older children with speech, feeding and dental issues related to a tongue-tie can also benefit from a laser surgery release. Dr. Santos focuses on providing an accurate diagnosis, treatment, management, follow- up and coordinated care with other specialists to help resolve tongue-tie issues.
BOARD-CERTIFIED IN PEDIATRIC DENTAL CARE
“As the mom of a lip-tied baby, I understand how helpless and hopeless you feel when your baby is having trouble nursing. As a pediatric dentist, I have made it my mission to help other babies struggling with lip-ties & tongue-ties so that they don’t have to suffer the consequences of having to compensate for a restriction caused by a tiny little string.”
Dr. Maribel Santos-Cordero is a board-certified and laser-certified pediatric dentist with over twenty years of experience bringing excellence in oral health care to children, adolescents, and children with special needs. Treating children is her vocation, and it is her mission to provide each patient with the necessary tools to achieve better oral health. This passion is evident in her team as well, all of whom remain dedicated to your child’s comfort and care. Our goal is to help your child maintain a happy, healthy smile in the safest and most favorable way possible. We look forward to building relationships with you and your child!