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What is a Lip or Tongue tie?

Lip and Tongue ties can be so restrictive that they can cause increase in decay, impaired oral mobility, underdevelopment of the skeletal structures of the head, speech and feeding issues in infants, and ultimately, an impaired airway. A frenectomy is a simple surgical procedure aimed correcting lip and tongue ties. Lip tie refers to a congenital anomaly where the upper lip's frenulum, the small band of tissue that connects the upper lip to the gums, is overly tight or restrictive. This condition can limit the range of motion of the upper lip and cause various complications, affecting oral function and overall comfort. Tongue ties are exactly the same condition, but under the tongue.

Why would a lip or tongue tie need to be released?

Upper lip restrictions cause the maxilla (the upper jaw) to pull back, resulting in underdevelopment of the skeletal structure of the midface. The tightness of the frenulum can lead to several challenges, such as breastfeeding difficulties, speech impediments, dental issues, crowded/crooked teeth, and discomfort during certain activities, such as eating or playing wind instruments. By undergoing lip tie release, individuals can potentially alleviate these problems and improve their overall quality of life. Tongue restrictions are more complex. Did you know that the fascia in our tongue is connected all the way down to our toes? Because tongues are more complex, we ask our patients to work with their myofunctional therapist to determine if they can simply do exercises to stretch the tongue sufficiently, or if they actually require release. We are not eager to do surgery if we don't have to, so working with the myofunctional therapist is part of our checks and balances system to ensure we only do surgery if we need to.

Who would be a candidate for lip or tongue tie release?

Anyone, regardless of age, who experiences symptoms or complications associated with lip or tongue tie may be a suitable candidate for lip tie release. Infants who have trouble latching during breastfeeding, leading to poor feeding or inadequate weight gain, often benefit from this procedure. Children and adults with speech difficulties, dental misalignment, underdeveloped upper jaws, or discomfort due to a tight upper lip frenulum may also seek lip tie release. Tongue tie releases would be considered for anyone who has crowded lower incisors, or a restricted opening, a high vaulted palate, a narrow arch, mouth breathing, shoulder tension, and a number of other potential issues that are evaluated by the myofunctional therapists we work with.

What happens during lip or tongue tie release?

During a lip tie release procedure, the surgeon or dentist will carefully evaluate the severity of the lip tie and its impact on oral function. The procedure is typically performed in a clinical setting and involves the following steps:

  • Preparation: The patient's mouth will be thoroughly examined, and the area around the lip tie will be cleansed to ensure optimal hygiene. Our office highly recommends preparation for tongue tie release with a myofunctional therapist. We are happy to provide you with a list of wonderful therapists in the greater Houston area.
  • Anesthesia: Local anesthesia is commonly used to numb the area, ensuring minimal discomfort during the procedure. For infants or individuals who experience anxiety, appropriate sedation techniques may be employed to promote relaxation.
  • Release: Using a precise surgical technique, our doctor will release the frenulum using our Fotona Lightwalker laser to release the tension and allow for improved mobility of the upper lip or tongue. After releasing the ties, the doctor will place sutures under the tongue, though sutures are not necessary for upper lip releases.
  • Post-procedure care: Following the lip tie release, the patient may experience mild discomfort, swelling, or minimal bleeding, which are generally temporary. Tongue tie releases are a bit more uncomfortable because we ask you to do exercises and move your tongue after surgery. In fact, we EXPECT you to pop your sutures when you do your post operative exercises! The healthcare professional will provide detailed post-operative instructions, which may include gentle exercises and wound care practices to aid in proper healing. We also ask our patients to follow up with their myofunctional therapists for several visits after their release.

It is important to note that lip tie release procedures are generally safe and have a low risk of complications. However, as with any surgical intervention, there may be potential risks and individual considerations, which should be discussed with the healthcare provider beforehand.

At Holistic Dental Associates, our team of experienced professionals understands the impact that lip tie can have on oral function and overall well-being. We offer comprehensive evaluations, personalized treatment plans, and compassionate care to help individuals achieve enhanced oral comfort and function through lip tie release. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards a healthier, more confident smile.