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Can Untreated Lip & Tongue-Ties Have Lasting Impacts on Toddlers?

March 21, 2024

Filed under: Uncategorized — happyteeth @ 4:35 pm
a parent watching his child dance

Over the last decade or so, lip and tongue-ties have been more commonly diagnosed among babies and children, as doctors, dentists, and parents have become more familiar with symptoms associated with them. While in some cases, treating these issues may not be necessary, other more severe situations will need to be addressed by a professional.  If it isn’t, your child can experience worsening symptoms as they inch into toddlerhood and start talking and eating solid foods. Read on to learn how lip and tongue-ties can impact your child as they age and when treatment may be necessary.

What are Lip & Tongue-Ties?

Lip and tongue-ties are actually two separate issues. Lip ties involve the restricted movement of the lips, while tongue-ties affect the movement of the tongue. Frenum, which are the thin strips of oral tissue that connect the lips to the gums and the tongue to the floor of the mouth, can become overgrown and thick, limiting children’s ability to move these oral structures. These lip and tongue-ties can lead to a variety of symptoms depending on the child’s age.

Signs of lip and tongue-ties common in babies and younger children include:

  • Difficulty latching while nursing.
  • Discomfort for parent while nursing.
  • Spitting out or choking on milk.
  • More frequent feedings.
  • Poor weight gain.
  • Digestive issues.

When is Treatment Necessary?

Lip and tongue-ties are diagnosed via examinations from medical professionals like pediatric dentists. If they make a diagnosis, they’ll typically grade it between Level 1 and Level 4, with a Level 4 tie being the most severe. In many cases, lower level diagnoses may not be necessary to treat, as they aren’t so restrictive that they impact a child’s ability to breathe easily, speak, or eat. However, more severe cases can lead to secondary conditions when they’re left untreated.

Long-Term Effects of Untreated Lip & Tongue-Ties

When higher level lip and tongue-ties aren’t treated when your child is an infant, you may notice that their condition has other impacts on their lives. Some effects of untreated cases in toddlers include:

  • Airway and sleep-breathing issues, like snoring and mouth breathing.
  • A higher risk of dental problems, like cavities.
  • Issues with pronouncing certain sounds and delayed speech development.
  • Persistent dribbling.
  • Food aversion and gagging, choking, or vomiting foods.
  • Difficulty fully chewing food.

While lip and tongue-ties can cause a slew of issues, the solution is relatively straight-forward—a minor surgery called a frenectomy. Although the thought of your child needing to undergo this procedure may seem scary, today, modern dental technology and techniques make frenectomies fast, easy, and pain-less. With a laser frenectomy, no stitches or surgical scissors will be used. Instead, a small beam of light will quickly zap away any overgrown tissue, helping your little one regain the complete use of their mouth.  

Ties can impact children at any point in their life and have a lasting affect on their development. Today, some adults are even learning that they may be able to benefit from a frenectomy, too! Although all of this can sound overwhelming, it’s truthfully not. With guidance from a skilled pediatric dentist, you’ll be able to make the best decision for your little one’s smile.

About the Author

Dr. Glen is a pediatric dentist with countless years of experience. He stays up-to-date with the latest technology and techniques in the dental field and is a proud member of the Academy of Laser Dentistry. As an expert in oral development, Dr. Glen regularly diagnoses and treats lip and tongue-ties in children with laser frenectomies, a safe and more comfortable technique when compared to traditional frenectomies. For questions or to schedule an appointment, visit Dr. Glen’s Happy Teeth’s website or call 516-517-0331.

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