A frenectomy “release” procedure is commonly used to correct lip-tie or tongue-tie issues. At Merrifield Pediatric Dentistry, Dr. Ghatak specializes in safe and effective infant frenectomy procedures that she performs using a soft tissue laser or traditional surgical techniques.
What Are Lip & Tongue Ties?
A lip-tie or tongue-tie occurs when the small membranes (lingual frenulum) that connect soft tissues found in the mouth are too thick or are attached in a way that restricts normal functioning of the lip and tongue.
Those affected soft tissues are located between the infant’s front teeth or are used to anchor and stabilize the tongue. Diminished mobility can cause poor latching when an infant tries to breastfeed, which may also make breastfeeding more painful for the mother.
Does My Child Have a Lip or Tongue Tie?
In addition to poor latching while breastfeeding, tongue tie or lip tie symptoms may include gassiness, falling asleep while feeding, trouble taking in enough milk, slow weight gain, colic, or an inability for the child to hold a pacifier in their mouth.
If you suspect that your child has an issue, it’s best to seek a diagnosis from a licensed pediatrician, pediatric dentist, and/or International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). Using a team-focused, holistic approach will help ensure that your child gets the care they deserve. If you currently don’t have a board-certified lactation specialist, Dr. Ghatak can refer you to one nearby.
What Are My Child’s Treatment Options?
The decision whether-or-not to treat a lip tie or tongue tie boils down to symptoms. In milder cases, some care providers choose to take a more conservative “wait-and-see” approach.
In more complex cases, a frenectomy procedure may be performed by a licensed pediatric dentist like Dr. Ghatak. Frenectomies are relatively simple, can be done in a dentist’s office, and usually only take a few minutes to perform.
What Should I Expect During & After the Procedure?
During the initial frenectomy consultation, you will be asked to complete a health history for your child, along with a questionnaire about any tongue tie or lip tie symptoms you may have observed. Dr. Ghatak will also carefully examine your child while you are present.
If it’s determined that a release procedure would benefit your child, Dr. Ghatak will patiently answer your questions. If you agree that a frenectomy is the best option, it’s sometimes possible to have the procedure done in our office that same day.
During the procedure
After applying a topical anesthetic and local anesthesia to ease discomfort, the frenectomy is performed using Biolase Laser and it is usually over within fifteen minutes.
Post Frenectomy care tips
Even though the procedure is quick and relatively painless, it can take 6 weeks for the area to completely heal. Here are some steps that we ask parents or guardians to take following a release procedure:
- For comfort and evaluation purposes you should nurse or bottle-feed your infant immediately after they have been returned to you.
- Minor bleeding is possible. If it occurs, use light pressure and moist gauze for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Within 24 hours after the procedure, the area will appear white and or yellow. Not to be confused with an infection, the appearance is a normal part of the healing process.
- Your infant may experience mild discomfort for up to 5 days afterward. Complete healing may take 6 weeks. Dr. Ghatak will recommend daily stretching exercises that help promote proper healing.
- If you have a lactation consultant and are still experiencing feeding difficulties, Dr. Ghatak recommends that you follow up with them.
Frenectomy aftercare stretching exercises
Your child’s post frenectomy aftercare program will include daily stretching exercises that can be done right at home. Dr. Ghatak will ask you to do these exercises at least 3 times a day for a total of 4 weeks. It’s important that the stretching is always done using gentle-yet-firm pressure.
For young children:
Once your child is positioned comfortably on their back here’s how to proceed:
- Gently lift their lip upwards towards the nose as high as it will go.
- Applying gentle-yet-firm pressure with your index finger, rub back and forth across the white, diamond-shaped tissue area for 5 to 10 seconds.
- Next, gently lift up your child’s tongue and locate the white diamond-shaped tissue area underneath. Using your index finger, gently push back and hold the tissue for 5 to 10 seconds.
While doing these stretching exercises the key is to get in-and-out within a few seconds each time. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact our office.
For older children:
These exercises should be done at least 3 times a day for at least 4 weeks. These exercises are meant to promote healing and to ensure that the wound does not heal back together.
Have your child stick their tongue all the way out to a point scraping the top teeth, then pull the tongue back in and lick the top of their palate twenty times.
Have your child stick their tongue out to the left, then all the way out to the right, and then touch the palate ten times.
Have them push their tongue into the right cheek for ten seconds, then repeat on the left side for 10 seconds.
Have your shield stick their tongue out and as for down their chin as possible. Hold for 10 seconds.
Have them suction their tongue to the palate and open their mouth widely for ten seconds.
Again, 3 times a day is the minimum for these exercises, but the more the better.
Still Worried? Schedule a Consultation with Dr. Ghatak
As a fellow parent, Dr. Ghatak understands how stressful it can be when you suspect that your infant may have a tongue-tie or lip-tie issue. Don’t let those concerns stop you from enjoying precious bonding moments with your child any longer. Instead, schedule a confidential frenectomy consultation appointment with Dr. Ghatak today by calling Merrifield Pediatric Dentistry in Dunn Loring, VA, at 571-293-1668!