Discovering And Correcting Lip Tie On A Toddler And An Infant

When my son was born, I told the nurse at the hospital that I wanted to see a lactation consultant because he wasn’t latching correctly. She told me there wasn’t one available that day, assured me he was fine, and that I just needed to reposition him. Having just given birth and being very emotional, I was desperate to go home to my toddler whom I had never left for more than a few hours, so I believed this nurse.

But I knew something wasn’t right. Even though my son was gaining weight and pooping away, the pain of nursing was unbearable and I thought I was getting mastitis, but then the pain went away. At around 3 months, my La Leche leader noticed that it did not look like he was latching as far as he should be and asked that I have him checked for tongue tie. The pediatrician said he didn’t have it, and that because he was gaining weight, he was fine.

But mothers always know. Even if we don’t know what it is, we know when something is wrong.

It is becoming up to us to figure out what is going on with our babies. Nowadays, many people turn to Facebook to ask questions relating to health, as sometimes it’s easier asking total strangers. So when a mother on a babywearing group I’m a member of posted a photo of her 7 month old daughter and asked if she had lip tie, my heart started beating fast as I read through all the comments, and my head started saying “This is it.”

So I looked under his top lip, and sure enough, clear as day, there was his upper labial frenulum, starting from his lip and working all the way down to his gums, reaching where his two front teeth will eventually come through.

I tried to take a good photo, but 6 month old babies don’t like being held down, so here are three examples of what lip tie in a babies can look like
how-to-diagnose-tongue-and-lip-ties-2

 

So I put the kids to bed and researched like my life depended on it. It’s hereditary- does that mean I have it? Run to the mirror, yes, I do! This is why my mother was told she had no supply after a month, because no-one caught onto the fact that my lip was tied.

Some of the symptoms associated with a lip tie in babies are:
  • Difficulty latching correctly to breastfeed
  • Colic/gassiness/reflux from incorrect latch
  • Baby thrashing/pulling away from breast
  • Baby’s latch falling off nipple
  • More frequent night feedings
In mom, it could be
  • Very painful nursing
  • Cracked/sore nipples
  • Mastitis or plugged ducts
  • Loss of milk supply

It varies from baby to baby and woman to woman, so if you think something isn’t right, find out from other moms in your area who the best lactation consultant is, who knows how to spot tongue and lip tie. Tongue tie is discussed much more often than lip tie, and we need to change that!

Within 24 hours I went to see a lactation consultant at a free breastfeeding clinic and she confirmed that my son had lip tie. What a weight is lifted off your shoulders when you finally know what is wrong with your baby, despite doctors and nurses saying “he’s fine.” I booked an appointment with Dr James Jesse in Loma Linda, California. He is the very best of the best, a dentist who uses a laser, not a knife, to cauterize the labial frenulum away from the lip. People travel far and wide to get to Dr Jesse, and because the procedure is so fast, I managed to get an appointment the next day.

The doctor and his staff are absolutely wonderful, and he checked all of us and confirmed we all have lip tie except my husband. Dr Jesse said my son’s in particular was severe and when I asked about not losing my milk supply he confirmed that I was lucky I still had it. So we chose to have both children undergo a laser frenectomy. My 2.5 year old daughter went first, and here is what she looked like before:

Lip Tie

And here she was during the procedure. They turned the television on for her, gave her a shot to numb the area (I was TERRIFIED she would freak out, but not a word. Not even a flinch. The needle is the smallest apparently) then he lasered it within a few minutes, she hopped off, they gave her a sugar free popsicle and she was as happy as can be.

Lip Tie Procedure

My son’s was more difficult for me to watch. My husband had to lie in the dentist’s chair and hold his arms down while a very sweet nurse held his head. It is a very quick procedure, only a few minutes, but when your baby is crying (and note- he started crying before the doctor even touched him because he didn’t like being restrained) it feels like an eternity. As soon as it was over he immediately wanted to nurse. I didn’t notice a difference which didn’t surprise me as we caught it so late. The earlier lip tie and tongue tie are treated, the better your nursing relationship will be.

Both kids were absolutely fine throughout the day and sleeping at night, you wouldn’t have even known they’d had this done! Dr Jesse said I could give Children’s Tylenol, but I didn’t see a need. After care is very easy- you simply need to give the top lip three quick lifts every hour while they’re awake for a week to make sure it doesn’t grow back. We instantly noticed a difference in both kids’ smile. Here is what my daughter looked like about 9 hours after the procedure.

Lip Tie

Notice in the bottom photo you can slightly see the wound, which means when she smiles, instead of her top lip being pulled by her frenulum, she can now smile freely.

Several people have asked why I chose to have my toddler’s done, as she is no longer nursing. We chose to because lip ties can cause:

  • A gap in-between the two top teeth requiring braces
  • Cavities in the four top front teeth as food is unable to escape freely
  • Speech issues
  • Dental issues

Within 24 hours of me posting about this on my Facebook page, 5 children were spotted to have lip ties. This is something that commonly goes unnoticed, along with tongue tie. Both require someone who specializes in this area to diagnose them, not any pediatrician or lactation consultant can spot it. So please spread the word. You could be helping another mother like me who had no idea what was wrong, but knew something was not right.

Have you or your children got lip tie? Or tongue tie? Let us know in the comments below.

 

Read more about lip tie HERE

 

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Managing Editor. Ladan is a British mother of three, who moved to California in 2008 to live with her husband. Born and raised in London, she has the very British sarcastic sense of humor. None of her previous workplaces prepared her for becoming a mother and having the three most demanding bosses in the world, but also the cutest.

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85 Comments on "Discovering And Correcting Lip Tie On A Toddler And An Infant"

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R R
Guest

Just shared this article with my cousin and it really made sense for her about what she and her baby have been through. Thanks for writing this! She’s calling her dentist tomorrow.

Cassie Richardson
Guest

Hi!!! We’re considering having our daughter’s done (she’s 2 yrs now). I just discovered it, we didn’t have any problems with breastfeeding thankfully.

Can you tell me where you got your procedure done for her? A lot of ppl say the laser therapy isn’t common and we want to get some second opinions if our pediatric dentist doesn’t agree.

I am chiefly concerned with her speech and her smile as she gets older. Kids are cruel and I don’t want her to have to suffer.

Feel free to email me the info! I’d really appreciate it!

Andrea Lewis
Guest

I am kicking myself now because I had the same issue with my now 5 year old and she has a gap so wide in her front teeth,that another tooth can fit in there:(
I did have the surgery performed on her when she was 6mos.old but I didn’t see the same results:(

New Grandma/Mom of 6
Guest
My son is 11 years old. We had an amzing pediatrician who caught onto his tongue tie at 2 weeks old. She recommended we offer his binky often, as sucking would help to stretch out his frenulum (in his case). I had already given up breastfeeding by then, due to the excruciating pain it caused. He did have speech therapy for a while at age 2.5, but honestly that was due to a reaction to a shot (he is allergic to pertussis vaccine). He is now a happy, wonderful boy, with no dental issues and only an occasional word-slurring, which… Read more »
Alisa
Guest

I just thought I would share this link which explains lip ties and indicates not all lip ties are problematic. If you sent having issues breastfeeding, sounds like it is a non-issue http://www.drghaheri.com/blog/2014/10/8/the-difference-between-a-lip-tie-and-a-normal-frenulum

Alisa
Guest

If you are NOT having issues breastfeeding is what I meant to write…

Kimberly Elwell
Guest

You can have no trouble with breastfeeding and think revising isn’t necessary. However, a tie could still cause unnecessary dental (cavities, gap, etc.) & speech issues down the road. Revising a tie isn’t invasive. It’s quick and very low pain. Your child will get a numbing shot and will not feel anything, and pain is minimal after the procedure. It’s very much worth taking care of before any harm is really done. You may think it’s not necessary because breastfeeding is going well, but consider the long term.

Elizabeth
Guest

I so appreciate your post, I am raising and re-lactating for my grandson. He is now 7 months old. I saw a lactation specialist who was wise enough to check since my supply was low. He is scheduled for the procedure and I hope and pray that he can latch right for his sake and mine. We are adopting him and I want us to have as great a breastfeeding relationship possible!

NT
Guest
*I have to vent* WOW! I am reading this on my son’s first birthday. We had a very rough start to breastfeeding. I saw “FOUR” different lactation consultants and 1 ENT specialist to consult for a tongue tie but no one ever bothered to check for a lip tie. No one even mentioned it as a remote possibility. I didnt even know it is a thing until I read this while I was researching for a reason for the gap in my son’s front teeth. On my 10+ appointments with LCs in the first 8 weeks of my son’s life… Read more »
Charlene
Guest

My daughter has a lip frenulum but I can not find anyone who thinks it’s bad enough to clip it. Now at 2 1/2 she need fillings and still the dentist tells us to let it be clearly the frenulum is not allowing the upper part of the teeth to get clean. Please help I need suggestions on how to proceed. It was not an issue with feeding cause I could not breast feed and now I feel that the doctors just want to leave it cause it makes them more money. I am so stressed over this

Nichole M.
Guest
I’m so happy I’ve found this! I have a 3 month old daughter who I wanted SO badly to breastfeed but it was just too painful – and I’m talking fist clenching painful. So painful that I would be holding the back of her head as she would latch on and I’d have to yell for my husband to hold her head for me because I was afraid my hands would clench on her tiny head. Yeah, it was tough. I only lasted 3 1/2 weeks. I wanted to try and keep nursing her but my husband protested – he… Read more »
Danielle
Guest
I’m in tears reading this because I can relate to you with the pain. My baby boy is 8 months old and I justrealized tonight that he has a lip tie. I had the same amount of severe pain as you with breastfeeding, where I would end up gripping his head so tight because of the pain. I was terrified that I would damage his little head so I would use my palm to hold onto him and grip my teeth in pain. After two months of excruciating pain at every feeding it finally got better because I pumped for… Read more »
Lianne
Guest
Thanks for this post. I have 1.5 yr old twins and they just noticed the lip tie in my boy TODAY because I saw his teeth weren’t dropping like most peoples. I’m so upset they just figured this out, because they found his tongue tie at a week old and though it helped him drink his bottle better, after reading this I’m almost in tears because he had reflux issues for so much longer and it could have all been because of the stupid lip tie they didn’t catch. I’m really glad that it’s a simple procedure to have it… Read more »
Aimee
Guest

I could have step by step written this article!! My LO is 6mo and after many many problems and seeing a pic of a lip tie on a mummy’s fb page an checking my girl I’ve just realised he has a very noticeable lip tie!!? This has gone unnoticed by many doctors and lactation consultants!! I’m furious!

bernard
Guest

my 10 months old daughter had a lip and tongue tie surgery today at the Nairobi hospital. Am so happy the stress and the pain of waiting is over me. thanks a lot Dr. safwat…

Amy
Guest
Thank you so much for posting this, my daughter had all these symptoms as a baby I gave up on breastfeeding, and she was extremely colicky. Unfortunately her lip tie went un noticed until 2.5 years old. I really wish I would have known about this when she was baby and maybe I would have been more successful at breast feeding. Now that my daughter is almost 3 she has a very hard time speaking. She can say a ton of words but has a very hard time with pronouncing, the only people that can really understand her are my… Read more »
S
Guest
I wish i had read about this 9 months ago 🙁 My son is now 10 months old and i had to give up breastfeeding due to the excessive pain and recurring mastitis. It was making me a miserable mother and i had to start bottle feeding to improve my own health to be able to be a happy mum to my baby. The fact that i have now found this would show that its still on my mind 9 months on as i was never able to find an answer as to what the problem was! This really needs… Read more »
leesa abrahams
Guest
my son who has just turned one was born with a lip and tongue tie, i was the one who noticed both, he had his tongue tie cut at one month but by then i hadnt noticed the lip tie, a couple of days later i noticed it and everytime i mentioned it to anyone they say “we don’t do anything for lip ties” his is severe, when he smiles and laughs the inside of his lip seems to bulge out, and he has problems feeding and cant even keep his dummy in, he has never gained much weight and… Read more »
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