Lip tie is when the piece of muscleless tissue that binds the upper lip to the upper gum limits the movement of the mouth because it is too close, too thick, or both.
Breastfeeding problems are one of the most common signs your child may have a lip tie or tongue tie. Other signs include:
- Difficulty breathing during feeding
- Making a clicking sound while nursing
- Lack of weight gain (or slow weight gain)
- Struggling to latch on to your breast
- Often falling asleep during nursing
- Acting extremely fatigued by nursing
If a child has lip tie and you are a mother who is breastfeeding, you might experience:
- Blocked milk ducts
- Pain during or after breastfeeding
- Fatigue from breastfeeding constantly
- Breasts that feel engorged
What Causes a Lip Tie?
Although there is no concrete data to understand why a lip tie occurs, multiple studies indicate an inherited disorder close to tongue tie. Lip tie hasn’t been studied as much as tongue tie, but lip and tongue tie treatments are very similar. Lip tie with tongue tie can make it difficult for babies to breastfeed, and in some cases, cause babies to have weight gaining issues.
Lip Tie Complications
According to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association, babies who have a serious lip or tongue tie can tend to have difficulty eating from a spoon or consuming finger food. Lip ties don't create as many problems in later life. Many paediatricians believe an untreated lip tie will lead to an increased risk of tooth decay for children.
Diagnosing Lip Tie in Babies
Babies with breastfeeding difficulties should have an assessment of their feeding. If they have problems with their latch, a doctor should be in a position to determine quickly whether lip tie or tongue tie is the cause.
How Common Are Lip Ties?
Dr. Ghaheri, an ENT at the Oregon Clinic, says a lip tie is much less common than a tongue tie, a condition where a short, tight piece of tissue below the tongue restricts its range of motion.
What To Do If Your Baby Has Lip Tie?
Lip tie isn’t dangerous for babies, as long as they’re gaining weight according to their pediatrician’s guidelines. But lip tie, once diagnosed, is easy to correct. There are therapy strategies that help to break a lip tie to make breastfeeding simpler for children. Sliding your finger along the top of your baby's lip and loosening the gap between the lip and gum line may gradually improve your child's lip mobility.
Typically, lip ties of level 1 and level 2 are left alone and do not require revision. If your baby's ability to feed is limited by a tongue tie as well as a lip tie, a paediatrician can encourage you to "revise" or "release" them both, even if the lip tie is considered level 1 or level 2.
Level 3 or level 4 lip corrections may involve a procedure called a "frenectomy." A pediatrician or, in some cases, a paediatric dentist can do this. A frenectomy neatly severs the membrane which connects the lip with the gums. A laser or a sterilised surgical scissor may be used to do this. There is usually no need for anaesthesia to reform a lip tie, and it usually causes little pain or discomfort for the baby.
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