Tongue-Ties & Lip-Ties

Advanced Dentistry of Amarillo is proud to be the one of the only offices in the panhandle that regularly performs tongue and lip-tie releases with the use of a laser. This procedure is most commonly performed on infants 0-12 months of age, but is sometimes indicated on adults as well. If this treatment is recommended, we will guide you through the process and make it as easy as possible!

What Is a Tongue-tie or Lip-tie?

Before we are born, cords of tissue form to guide the development of the mouth, called “frenums.” These frenums are supposed to recede and thin by birth, but in about 5-10% of children, this does not occur for the tongue and/or lip. This leaves the tongue and/or lips “tied down.”

Tongue-tie (or ankyloglossia) is a condition that limits the use of the tongue. Lip-tie is a condition where the upper or lower lip cannot be curled or moved normally. 

The tongue and lips are moved by a very complex group of muscles and are important for all oral functions and proper facial and dental growth. For this reason, having a tongue-tie or a lip-tie early in life can lead to nursing, feeding, bite problems, speech problems, and even TMJ and breathing issues later on in life. Problems from an untreated tie can persist into adulthood with migraines, neck pain, and shoulder pain.

Infant tongue-tie.png
Infant lip-tie.png

If Your Baby Experience any of these symptoms, please give us a call!

  • No latch or poor latch

  • Prolonged feeding

  • Frequent feeding

  • Baby seems unsatisfied despite long feeding and adequate milk supply

  • Baby falls asleep on the breast

  • Colic and/or reflux symptoms

  • Baby gums or bites the nipple rather than sucking

  • Poor weight gain

  • Inability to hold the pacifier

If mom experiences any of these symptoms, please give us a call!

  • Creased or discolored nipples after feeding

  • Flattened nipples after feeding

  • Cracked, bruised, blistered or bleeding nipples

  • Painful latch

  • Incomplete drainage

  • Infected nipples

  • Plugged ducts

  • Mastitis and nipple thrush

When is tongue and lip-tie a problem that needs treatment?

Although it is often overlooked or dismissed by other medical professionals, a tongue and lip-tie can very often be an underlying cause of feeding problems. Very often, after releasing the tongue and/or lip, mothers report immediate relief of feeding pain and a deeper latch. The symptoms of reflux and colic almost disappear, and weight gain occurs rapidly. The sooner the tongue-tie is addressed the better the child will learn to use his or her tongue correctly.

Dental Developmental Concerns

For older children with a lip-tie, it is common to have a gap between the two front teeth. This often closes if the frenum is removed. In younger children, tongue and lip ties can lead to poor tongue posture (tongue not resting on the roof of the mouth). When the tongue does not rest on the roof of the mouth, the child will be more inclined to be a mouth-breather, and the lack of outward muscle force on the palate, or roof of mouth, will cause an underdeveloped upper jaw and midface. This leads to a “long face” with a short, weak, or double chin. It also leads to a retruded, or pushed back lower jaw, which leads to TMJ and sleep apnea issues later in life.

What is a Frenectomy?

A “frenectomy,” or “tie-release,” is a procedure used to correct a tongue tie and/or lip tie. A frenectomy can be done surgically with a blade or in our office with the use of a special laser.

The benefits of using a laser (compared to a surgical frenectomy) are:

  • Minimal to no bleeding allowing better visibility for the doctor

  • Enhanced precision due to better visibility

  • Complete removal of desired tissue

  • Minimally invasive

  • Short treatment time (1-2 Minutes)

  • Less trauma to underlying tissue layers

  • Rapid healing and recovery

 The procedure may be performed as early as a couple of days after birth and can be performed into adulthood. Typically, once a problem with a tongue-tie or lip-tie has been discovered, the sooner it is addressed the better the procedure will work, and the fewer issues the child will have. 

Babies tolerate the procedure very well, and we try to ensure that discomfort is minimized. The revision can be performed in our office with a special (and very potent) topical anesthetic gel. Dr. Miller uses the highest quality, state-of-the-art laser technology to perform the release.

Older children who understand the procedure receive some local numbing anesthetic and laughing gas and usually report no pain at all during the procedure. Younger children and babies usually cry more due to strangers working in their mouth than from any pain.

After the Procedure

The primary concern after the procedure is that the tie will reattach due to the rapid healing capability of the mouth. This could cause a new limitation in mobility, and the return of symptoms. Therefore, it is recommended that you perform post-op stretching exercises for your baby for several days until the site is completely healed.

Post-op exercises and instructions will be provided after your baby’s procedure.

Megan Garwood