Frenectomies are a common procedure performed on infants, babies and children who have lips and tongues that are held too tightly by their frenum. The frenum is the ligament that attaches the lips and the tongue to your gum and jaw bone. It is important to fix this at a young age because it can cause gum recession between and on individual teeth, and it can create gaps between the teeth.
Dr. Chan performs laser frenectomies on infants, babies and children who suffer from tongue and lip ties. Performing a laser frenectomy, Dr. Chan is able to remove all or part of the frenum with a laser, allowing the tied lip or tongue to move freely as it was intended. The laser allows Dr. Chan to treat patients with efficiency and minimal discomfort.
A normal tongue is not restricted by teeth and can move around freely, extending outwards between the upper and lower jaw. Infants swallow with their jaws parted and the tongue positioned between gum pads. This produces a vacuum for swallowing called the “infantile swallow.”
Between the ages of two and three, when all the milk teeth have erupted, this swallow transitions to an adult swallow. Now the lips close, the jaws bite together and the tongue tip raises and presses against the front part of the upper jaw.
When there is an abnormal tongue function, a tongue tie occurs, meaning the tongue is attached to the bottom of the mouth. This restricts the tongue from moving around.
Tongue ties can result in some of the following developmental problems:
- Poor breastfeeding- Insufficient weight gain due to malnourishment
- Sleep disturbances
- Nipple pain for mothers
- Abnormal swallowing patterns- Orthodontic problems occur such as an open bite and crowded teeth
- Impaired speech- Some children with tongue ties can adjust to it and still have normal speech, but many children may have inaccurate pronunciation, particularly when speaking quickly.
- Dental health problems - Cavities can occur because food debris is not being removed by the tongue’s action of spreading saliva and sweeping the teeth. This can result in gum disease.
- Poor self-esteem – When communication is hindered due to being tongue tied, children tend to be shy to speak, leading to low self-esteem.
- Insufficient facial development- An open bite can develop, where the front teeth do not collide when the child closes his or her mouth. This is a result of the tongue sitting towards the front of the mouth, preventing the jaws from coming together.
A lip tie is when the piece of skin between the lip and the gum is tight. This can occur on the upper or lower lip, but is most common and most problematic when it occurs on the upper lip. Symptoms can be noticed by both the baby and the mother, because it makes breast feeding extremely difficult; it causes the baby to pinch down on the breast, giving the mother pain.
Lip ties can be detected in newborn babies and can result in some of the following issues for the baby:
- Excessive hiccoughs
- A clicking sound while feeding along with grinding and biting
- Noisy breathing and snoring during sleep
- Recurrent breaks in feeding
- Sucked in cheeks or mouth
- Restless baby
- Slow weight gain or inability to gain weight
- Incapable of opening his or her mouth widely and latching onto the breast