Tissue called frenulum tethers the upper lip and upper gum area together. The tissue is supposed to be thin and fairly loose, but in some cases, babies are born with frenulum that is too tight and thick. Known as a lip-tie, this condition is believed to be heredity and can cause a variety of problems for both newborns and nursing mothers.
The location and severity of a lip-tie determines its classification. There are four classes:
A class IV lip-tie connects the lip to the palate. This is the most severe form of tip-tie.
A class III lip-tie connects the lip to the area where the two front teeth will later grow.
A class II lip-tie connects the lip to the gingival tissue.
A class I lip-tie connects the lip to the area above the gingival tissue.
Like tongue-tie classifications, the classifications were developed by Dr. Lawrence Kotlow. The sample images above are from his research.
As is often the case with tongue-tie, lip-tie might seem relatively harmless until you consider its impact on the infant’s early stages of development.
During breastfeeding, a baby creates a seal with his or her lips to suckle the breast. A lip-tie limits the baby’s ability to flange the lips, resulting in pain for the mother and possibly a callus on the baby’s upper lip. Some other immediate effects of a lip-tie, often resulting from the baby’s inability to suckle effectively, include gassiness and shorter but more frequent breastfeeding sessions.
The negative effects of a lip-tie continue when the baby is spoon and finger feeding. A baby with a lip-tie might fail to consume sufficient calories and begin to develop unusual chewing, swallowing, and breathing patterns.
Once the teeth come in, more issues can arise. A gap can form between the front two teeth if this is where the frenulum connects. If leftover food or drink frequently gets stuck near the lip-tie, this condition can lead to erosion of the teeth as well as periodontal disease.
A dentist or oral surgeon can easily remove a lip-tie, restoring the baby’s ability to naturally feed. This simple procedure will also help avoid further oral complications as the child grows. Recovery is fairly quick, but stretching exercises might be necessary to prevent the lip-tie from reforming.
If you think your child could have a lip-tie, call today 972-987-4899 to schedule a consultation and learn about how we can help.