Lip Tie Surgery for Infants: What Parents Should Know

Lip-Tie Surgery for Infants - Bismarck, ND

Posted on Aug 08, 2017 by Dr. Everett Heringer

A baby with his motherAt Heringer Dentistry LLC, we believe in helping patients of all ages with their dental health issues. There are plenty of ways to help people have healthy smiles, and we can use state-of-the-art technology to get patients to experience improved dental health. This goes for adults as well as babies and toddlers.

The team at our Bismarck family dentistry center have helped a number of very young patients who've suffered from a condition known as an upper lip tie. Let's go over the basics of the condition and how it can be effectively treated.

What Is a Lip Tie?

Let's first talk about the inside of the upper lip. If you run your tongue above your two front teeth, you may feel a small bit of skin/tissue where the gumline attaches to the upper lip. This is known as labial frenulum.

A lip tie refers to a situation in which the labial frenulum attaches too much of the upper lip to the gumline. In some cases, the frenulum begins between the two front teeth rather than higher up. This can lead to a number of issues with dental health and wellness. (Being tongue tied is a similar condition that involves the tongue and the lingual frenulum.)

Problems Caused by Lip Ties

If a person is lip tied, it can lead to dental alignment issues later in life. There may be a pronounced gap between the two front teeth, for example. If a patient requires dentures later in life, being lip tied may prevent them from wearing a denture because of how far down the labial frenulum is positioned on the gumline.

To eliminate this excess tissue, a surgery known as a labial frenectomy can be performed.

Signs and Symptoms of Lip Ties

In addition to noticing the prominence of the labial frenulum on the gumline, mothers who are nursing may experience the following issues:

  • Prolonged nursing and breastfeedings
  • Problems with proper latching
  • Painful nipples after nursery

Many times babies need to suck harder and longer while nursing because they cannot latch during nursing. This may result in issues with feeding, and the baby being gassier than expected after nursing.

Is There an Ideal Age for Lip Tie Surgery?

This can vary a fair amount from patient to patient, and from dentist to dentist. A lip tie procedure may be performed on a baby over 12 months old, though it may be prudent to wait a bit longer depending on how serious the issue impacts a child's ability to feed. In many cases, a labial frenectomy is delayed until all of a child's baby teeth have fallen out (usually by age 12), with the surgical procedure followed by or supplemented by orthodontic treatment.

During a consultation at our practice, we can consider various factors that may impact a baby's dental health and wellness.

What the Labial Frenectomy Procedure Entails

During a labial frenectomy, local anesthetic is carefully placed along the labial frenulum. A soft-tissue dental laser is then used to remove some of the excess tissue from the labial frenulum, freeing the lip from the gumline. Thanks to dental lasers, there is little blood loss since the dental laser cauterizes as it cuts the tissue.

Instructions will be given for proper post-op care, including feeding tips and information on how to ease your child's discomfort as they recover. Follow-up visits will help address any issues should they arise and prevent the labial frenulum from developing scar tissue and reforming.

Learn More About Lip Tie Treatments

To learn more about treating dental health and wellness issues of various kinds for members of your entire family, be sure to contact our cosmetic and restorative dentistry center today. The team at Heringer Dentistry LLC will work with you to help ensure a healthy smile that lasts for years to come.