Lip Tie: What Is It and How to Treat It 

Overview 

Lip tie is found in babies when the labial frenulum, a piece that joins the upper lip to the gums, is very tight. And this makes it difficult to move the upper lip. 

As small babies are breastfeeding, their lip ties make it feel challenging like not getting enough milk. Mothers also may feel pain and discomfort. 

However, lip tie has not been observed as much as tongue-tie, but the treatment for both are quite similar. If the baby has both tongue and lip ties, breastfeeding can become more difficult. 

Let’s know in detail what lip tie is exactly and how to diagnose the condition. 

What Is A Lip Tie? 

In normal breastfeeding, the baby should properly seal their lip around the nipples. So that when the nipples fully go into the baby’s mouth and then the baby can move its upper lip to facilitate a secure latch. But babies with lip ties don’t have normal breastfeeding, unfortunately. 

lip tie problems

Also read: can you get vaccinated while breastfeeding 

In some babies, the labial frenulum is very short and tight or connects lower in the gums making it more difficult to move the upper lip for the baby. So, in some babies, it interrupts the ability to breastfeed. 

The mother or caregiver can notice the signs while feeding them. However, in anatomy, it is not a disease or a severe condition that requires treatment. And in most cases not painful for the mothers as well. 

Moreover, as per the triological society, the extent to which doctors and caregivers are diagnosing lip ties has increased in a few years. 

Well, it isn’t a dangerous condition for babies, as long they are gaining weight as per the doctor’s guidelines. If once diagnosed, is easy to treat. 

The question is how to know if a baby has a lip tie?

Symptoms 

As we know breastfeeding will be affected by lip ties and can be an indication of lip ties toddler or baby. The potential symptoms may include:-

  • Difficulty in breathing during breastfeeding
  • Difficulty staying latched 
  • Making clicking sounds while nursing
  • Sputtering or choking 
  • Cluster feed excessively 
  • Often falling asleep during nursing
  • Baby’s isn’t gaining weight 
  • Developing jaundice 
  • Excessively fussy/colic
  • Extremely fatigued during nursing 

His mother may also experience some difficulties during feeding the baby, the symptoms may include:-

  • Nipple Pain during or after nursing 
  • Damaged or cracked nipple
  • Breasts will feel engorged right after nursing
  • Having a general milk supply issue
  • Extreme fatigue from breastfeeding even though your child does not seem full 
  • Blocked milk ducts or mastitis

Lip tie types:-

The type of lip tie depends on the severity of the condition, let’s see what consists of it:-

  • No significant attachment
  • Attachment mostly into the gum area
  • Attachment where the future upper front teeth will be
  • Attachment that extends down to the palette of the mouth

Is this a severe condition to be concerned about? In most cases, it’s not a big deal and will be treated over time. But still, some issues can happen at a risky rate sometimes. 

Lip Tie Problems 

Babies of toddlers who have severe lip tie issues may not be able to gain sufficient weight. In such conditions, you need to have a supplement breastfeeding with either formula or breast milk-fed from a bottle if this is easier for your baby to get nutrition. 

Lip tie infants or babies who have lip or tongue ties may find it difficult to eat food from a spoon and eating finger foods, said the American speech-language-hearing association. 

Overall lip ties don’t have that many complications further in life. Though, according to some pediatrics, an untreated lip tied for a long time can lead to a higher risk of developing tooth decay for lip tie toddler. 

Nonetheless, an untreated lip tie can cause a gap in the baby’s teeth leading to tooth decay. And more severely it can cause problems with speech. Lip tie and speech are interconnected and make it difficult to learn to speak for the baby. 

 

How Is Lip Tie Different From Labial Frenulum?

Having a labial frenulum connecting your lips to your gums doesn’t mean there is a lip tie. A maxillary labial frenulum is a membrane connecting your lip to the upper gums or palette. 

Also read: home remedies for swollen gums 

The notable sign of a lip tie is knowing if the upper lip movement is restricted. It is not able to move because of the rigid and tight membrane your baby may have a lip tie. 

But if no problems are coming from a membrane coupling the upper lip to the upper gum line, it may be simply a labial frenulum. 

So, how to release a lip tie? This can be done either manually or through laser treatment. Let’s see how.

How To Release A Lip Tie?

There are various therapies and techniques to loosen the lip tie and facilitate breastfeeding. This can be achieved by sliding your fingers through the top of your baby’s lip and exercise. Loosening the gap between the lip and gum line will gradually improve the mobility of the baby’s lips. 

Generally, level 1 and level 2 lip ties are left alone and do not need a revision. If lip and tongue tie occurs together and restricts the baby’s ability to latch, the pediatrician can advise you to release them both. Even if lip tie is at level or level 2. 

Level 3 and level 4 are considered to be treatable and require frenectomy, Which is a laser procedure. This procedure can either be performed by a pediatrician or pediatric dentist in some cases. 

Frenectomy neatly cuts off the membrane that is connecting the lips to the gums. This procedure is typically carried out by laser or surgical scissors. According to the experts, it causes very little or no pain or discomfort to the baby, and also no anesthesia is required for revision of a lip tie. 

However, not enough studies happened till now on lip ties on their own. More studies preferred the success rate of surgical treatment in lip and tongue tie together. 

There is not enough evidence that a frenectomy for lips enhances breastfeeding. Although one recent study from 2017 including 200 participants showed highly improved breastfeeding with immediate effects. 

Conclusion 

Lip tie is a condition found in babies and toddlers. It can be genetic or due to several other reasons. The muscle which joins the upper lip to the gum becomes rigid and tight which tends to make nursing challenging. Due to this both the baby and the mother feel difficult to make the feeding normal. When babies suffer from low weight and fatigue, mothers have to experience nipple pain and cracked nipples due to the excessive effort of the baby in extracting the milk. It can be revised with laser procedures such as frenectomy which immediately improves the condition. 

Frequently asked questions:-

 

Will a lip tie correct itself?

Yes, a lip tie may correct itself over time. However, a lip tie is not similar to a tongue tie, which does not go by itself. A lip tie needs to be treated when it is not going on its own and needs a suitable method to overcome this. Or else it can interfere with the development of the child.

How do you fix a lip tie?

The condition of lip tie is however categorized into 4 levels. Of these, levels 1 and 2 are not a big problem and will recover on their own. While level 3 and level 4 are something that needs to be treated by procedures such as frenectomy. It’s a laser procedure that removes the close attachment of the upper lip with gums. It can either be performed by a pediatrician or a pediatric dentist in some cases.

How do you know if your baby has a lip tie?

Well to observe the lip tie look at the small band of tissues connecting lips to the gums. It should be thin and quite detachable. But if it looks thick and difficult to detach and lips difficult to move, the baby may have a lip tie.

Can a lip tie affect speech?

Yes, in severe cases a lip tie can affect speech. In these cases when the lip tie is causing discomfort with speech and mouth opening, oral anatomy can be altered to minimize the pain, which can affect speech.

Who fixes a lip tie?

A pediatrician or pediatric dentist can fix a lip tie by following a procedure frenectomy which can be performed either with surgical scissors or laser. The procedure usually takes a few minutes to remove.

Does lip tie affect sleep?

Yes, a lip tie may affect sleep if left untreated. It may lead to functional and structural changes in craniofacial-respiratory complexes and impact sleep throughout life. Usually, tongue ties and low tongue lead to mouth breathing and interrupted sleep.

What does lip tie look like?

How a lip tie looks are quite noticeable. However, it depends on the severity of the lip tie. It looks like a small string on one end of the spectrum, as a wide band of connective tissue on the other.

How much does it cost to fix a lip tie?

The cost of fixing a lip tie depends on certain factors like where you live and the severity of the lip tie and the expertise of the pediatrician. It usually ranges between $250-$1200. Well, on average it will cost you between $400-$600, while some of the cases may be covered by insurance.

Can you successfully breastfeed with a lip tie?

Breastfeeding is quite difficult during a lip tie. Because of the rigidity of the upper lip which tightly gets adhered to the gum and restricts the movement of the upper lip. Which then interferes with satisfactory breastfeeding making it difficult to latch the milk. Breastfeeding moms also experience pain in the nipple due to the baby’s repeated effort to latch.

Should I get my baby’s lip tie lasered?

Yes, you should get your baby lip tie lasered when it does not go by itself and interfere in latching too much. Laser procedure or frenectomy not only helps your baby but you too. If you are a nursing mother and your baby is not able to properly latch the feed, lip tie removal can benefit you and the baby.

Anjali Ved

Anjali ved is an enthusiastic writer in the health & lifestyle-related niche. She has been writing various blogs and articles on medical niches. Apart from this, she also holds a degree in medicine and an experience of two years.

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