Discovering And Correcting Lip Tie On A Toddler And An Infant

When my son was born, I told the nurse at the hospital that I wanted to see a lactation consultant because he wasn’t latching correctly. She told me there wasn’t one available that day, assured me he was fine, and that I just needed to reposition him. Having just given birth and being very emotional, I was desperate to go home to my toddler whom I had never left for more than a few hours, so I believed this nurse.

But I knew something wasn’t right. Even though my son was gaining weight and pooping away, the pain of nursing was unbearable and I thought I was getting mastitis, but then the pain went away. At around 3 months, my La Leche leader noticed that it did not look like he was latching as far as he should be and asked that I have him checked for tongue tie. The pediatrician said he didn’t have it, and that because he was gaining weight, he was fine.

But mothers always know. Even if we don’t know what it is, we know when something is wrong.

It is becoming up to us to figure out what is going on with our babies. Nowadays, many people turn to Facebook to ask questions relating to health, as sometimes it’s easier asking total strangers. So when a mother on a babywearing group I’m a member of posted a photo of her 7 month old daughter and asked if she had lip tie, my heart started beating fast as I read through all the comments, and my head started saying “This is it.”

So I looked under his top lip, and sure enough, clear as day, there was his upper labial frenulum, starting from his lip and working all the way down to his gums, reaching where his two front teeth will eventually come through.

I tried to take a good photo, but 6 month old babies don’t like being held down, so here are three examples of what lip tie in a babies can look like
how to diagnose tongue and lip ties 2 Discovering And Correcting Lip Tie On A Toddler And An Infant

 

So I put the kids to bed and researched like my life depended on it. It’s hereditary- does that mean I have it? Run to the mirror, yes, I do! This is why my mother was told she had no supply after a month, because no-one caught onto the fact that my lip was tied.

Some of the symptoms associated with a lip tie in babies are:

  • Difficulty latching correctly to breastfeed
  • Colic/gassiness/reflux from incorrect latch
  • Baby thrashing/pulling away from breast
  • Baby’s latch falling off nipple
  • More frequent night feedings

In mom, it could be

  • Very painful nursing
  • Cracked/sore nipples
  • Mastitis or plugged ducts
  • Loss of milk supply

It varies from baby to baby and woman to woman, so if you think something isn’t right, find out from other moms in your area who the best lactation consultant is, who knows how to spot tongue and lip tie. Tongue tie is discussed much more often than lip tie, and we need to change that!

Within 24 hours I went to see a lactation consultant at a free breastfeeding clinic and she confirmed that my son had lip tie. What a weight is lifted off your shoulders when you finally know what is wrong with your baby, despite doctors and nurses saying “he’s fine.” I booked an appointment with Dr James Jesse in Loma Linda, California. He is the very best of the best, a dentist who uses a laser, not a knife, to cauterize the labial frenulum away from the lip. People travel far and wide to get to Dr Jesse, and because the procedure is so fast, I managed to get an appointment the next day.

The doctor and his staff are absolutely wonderful, and he checked all of us and confirmed we all have lip tie except my husband. Dr Jesse said my son’s in particular was severe and when I asked about not losing my milk supply he confirmed that I was lucky I still had it. So we chose to have both children undergo a laser frenectomy. My 2.5 year old daughter went first, and here is what she looked like before:

photo 1 300x300 Discovering And Correcting Lip Tie On A Toddler And An Infant

And here she was during the procedure. They turned the television on for her, gave her a shot to numb the area (I was TERRIFIED she would freak out, but not a word. Not even a flinch. The needle is the smallest apparently) then he lasered it within a few minutes, she hopped off, they gave her a sugar free popsicle and she was as happy as can be.

photo 2 300x3001 Discovering And Correcting Lip Tie On A Toddler And An Infant

My son’s was more difficult for me to watch. My husband had to lie in the dentist’s chair and hold his arms down while a very sweet nurse held his head. It is a very quick procedure, only a few minutes, but when your baby is crying (and note- he started crying before the doctor even touched him because he didn’t like being restrained) it feels like an eternity. As soon as it was over he immediately wanted to nurse. I didn’t notice a difference which didn’t surprise me as we caught it so late. The earlier lip tie and tongue tie are treated, the better your nursing relationship will be.

Both kids were absolutely fine throughout the day and sleeping at night, you wouldn’t have even known they’d had this done! Dr Jesse said I could give Children’s Tylenol, but I didn’t see a need. After care is very easy- you simply need to give the top lip three quick lifts every hour while they’re awake for a week to make sure it doesn’t grow back. We instantly noticed a difference in both kids’ smile. Here is what my daughter looked like about 9 hours after the procedure.

photo 3 300x300 Discovering And Correcting Lip Tie On A Toddler And An Infant

Notice in the bottom photo you can slightly see the wound, which means when she smiles, instead of her top lip being pulled by her frenulum, she can now smile freely.

Several people have asked why I chose to have my toddler’s done, as she is no longer nursing. We chose to because lip ties can cause:

  • A gap in-between the two top teeth requiring braces
  • Cavities in the four top front teeth as food is unable to escape freely
  • Speech issues
  • Dental issues

Within 24 hours of me posting about this on my Facebook page, 5 children were spotted to have lip ties. This is something that commonly goes unnoticed, along with tongue tie. Both require someone who specializes in this area to diagnose them, not any pediatrician or lactation consultant can spot it. So please spread the word. You could be helping another mother like me who had no idea what was wrong, but knew something was not right.

Have you or your children got lip tie? Or tongue tie? Let us know in the comments below.

 

Read more about lip tie HERE

 

Comments

  1. Jaime says

    A different perspective….I just found out that both my girls have stage 4 lip tie but I saw my dentist yesterday and he said not to worry. He said if I get it corrected now it will create scar tissue between the 2 front teeth and they will have trouble coming together even with braces (or will have trouble staying together after braces). He said to wait until my girls get braces and get it done at that time. That way the scar tissue will form around the teeth after they are already in place and will essentially end up holding them together rather than pushing them apart. I know it’s just one person’s opinion but I do trust his opinion. My siblings and I went to school with his kids and have been seeing him since we were little. His wife and son both had lip tie and his son just became a dentist this year and has perfect teeth so he is speaking from experience. As far as decay, he said you either have weak teeth or strong teeth genetically. Just make sure to take care of your teeth, stay away from sugary drinks and snacks, and see your dentist regularly. And yes, it does make a difference with latching while breastfeeding in some cases, but it’s up to the individual to determine if it’s worth it or not.

  2. Julie says

    I’m in tears… I had an awful time BFing my daughter and finally gave up after a few months because she didn’t latch very well, it was painful, and my supply was so low. Someone posted about it the other day and I took a second look at the cute little gap in my daughter’s teeth (she’ll be 2 in a month) and sure enough, she has lip tie. It goes all the way through her two front teeth so I guess a Class 3 or 4. I wish someone had told me! Or looked! I still feel terrible for ‘failing’ at breast feeding. I’ll definitely be spreading the word. Unfortunately, my daughter also had ITP when she was a baby and from all the blood draws they did, she freaks out when being held down, so I don’t think we can fix it until she’s older and understands what’s going on. Thank you so much for posting this. I just wish I had found it 2 years ago!

  3. Liz says

    I just learned about lip ties and tongue ties last night. I cried. No, I wept. My son is 2 years now, and we are expecting #2, and I have been looking forward to attempting breastfeeding again with great anxiety. Breastfeeding was excruciatingly painful for me from day one through 7 1/2 months, when I finally gave up with a very, very heavy heart. I had no supply. My son had horrible reflux. And after 2 months of supplementing with formula (due to FTT at 5 1/2 months), it was clear he no longer wanted to nurse, as he would latch for about 2 seconds then look expectedly for his bottle. I used Breastflow bottles, and remember distinctly how strange I thought it was that his upper lip depressed the nipple so severely. Then last night I learned about lip ties, it’s effect on breastfeeding, and that it’s hereditary. I had one removed as a child, only I’ve never known that it was a lip tie. I checked my son, and sure enough, his upper lip is tied. So I wept. I wept for relief that maybe my failure to breastfeed wasn’t really my failure at all, but due to this circumstance outside anyone’s control. I wept with anger and frustration that neither the LC I consulted on several occasions, nor my currently breastfeeding doctor ever thought to do the simplest thing, look inside my son’s mouth to check for ties. And I wept because I now have hope and renewed confidence for breastfeeding our new baby. You better believe I’ll be discussing lip tie with my midwife at my next appointment, and I will be checking the inside of this baby’s mouth before I attempt latching the first time.

    • michelle says

      Yes, its a moments of frustration. Ours had both a tongue and upper lip tie- so the tongue tie, was not dealt with until at nearly 3 mos, our nurse practioner pointed it out and got us on the consult list. But b/c i was nursing around the clock and then raising two other young ones, who knows how i functioned.. anyway, i later found the upper tongue tie as his teeth were starting to show signs of cavities. Sure enough, he had them extracted at age 2, and then the upper tie corrected at age 2. Yes, i always knew there was an issue but again, not even the child dentist who i seen since he was under 1, and we watched those teeth get worse, knew nothing of the correlation. Its horrible when you have a feeling or know, but then no one else knows. Thanks to other moms who can help out.

  4. Ashley says

    Thank you for posting this! I have just realized, mostly because of this article, that my 16 wk old has lip-tie! Oddly enough, our pediatrician checked for the tongue-tie but didn’t do so for the lip..(?) She has every single symptom/struggle in the list above. Thankfully I have only had slight discomfort from nursing, but I’m more concerned with her! She still only sleeps for 2 hours at a time and will feed as soon as she wakes from her 2 hour sleep periods. I feel so badly that she’s not getting more sleep! Her reflux is resolving itself a bit, but who knows if she also suffers from a little of the “silent” reflux type…

    We are looking into getting this fixed ASAP. Unfortunately no one in our area does the laser surgery; from what I’ve read there are only 12 or so docs that use the laser in the US! We will fly if necessary. I am not putting my child under anesthesia at so young of an age.

    There’s a support group on FB under “tongue tie” that I’m joining so I can find out more. I’ve also been googling like crazy!!! Hopefully this will help her nurse better, get better/longer sleep. I wish I would’ve had this figured out a LOT sooner. I even went to 2 LC appt.’s and it wasn’t diagnosed. She used to nurse for 45 minutes because she would fall asleep (probably from being exhausted from the effort. She wasn’t jaundiced).

    It makes me sad to think of how many mothers have to stop nursing because their babies have this problem and it isn’t diagnosed????? :(

  5. Angela says

    omg, my 15 month old daughter is lip tied, looks like the most dramatic one, I can’t believe it, I tried so hard to breastfeed, thank you, thank you, thank you, now what do I do? any advice?

  6. Victoria Buller says

    In April 2012 I gave birth to my first child, a baby girl, Aria. For three long nights Aria wouldn’t nurse, the lactation department said I was doing everything properly and that she would eat if she was hungry. On day four I was sick of waiting and trying so I gave her a bottle of formula which she took immediately. We never found out why, we just assumed she didn’t like something about the whole situation and let her eat freely from what she wanted. At nearly 16 months I got a call from my sister in law, who was watching her. She told me that Aria had fallen and bit her tongue and when she went to look at it she seen something that moms in an attachment parenting group she is a part of posted. She told me that Aria had something called a lip tie, like a tongue tie on your lip and explained it and how it is probably what effected our breastfeeding. I had never heard of it, so while researching I found you page (first one!) it explains it so well and leaves nearly no question unanswered. Thanks so much for taking time to post about this!

  7. Jen Fuelling says

    My 2.5 yr old has a severe speech delay, a gap in his front teeth, and decay that has chipper his front tooth. I started researching and found info on lip ties and he has a stage 4 lip tie. I have him I speech therapy now and they agree and I noticed my 9 month old also has a stage 4 lip tie. We were referred to an ENT who is doing the lip tie surgery on them both tomorrow.

  8. Stephanie says

    I never had any problems nursing my daughter (now 3.5 years old). Her teeth are happy although she has a gap which runs in my husband’s family. Just today my friend told me that she noticed a lip tie in her son who is a year old. She has had trouble nursing, etc. Out of curiosity, I looked it up and found that my daughter has what appears to be a stage 4 lip tie! Is it possible/common to have a lip tie but have no other issues. Her teeth are very healthy now – it is possible to be diligent in cleaning and diet to prevent tooth decay?

  9. Jacki says

    My 11 week old baby had her lip tie released last week in Brisbane. I knew on day 3 that my feeding relationship was different this time when I compared to my 2 sons – she didn’t flange her lip, it was excruciating to feed her and I felt her tongue was short as she never poked it out beyond her gums. It took 3 doctors and 3 lactation consultants before this was finally confirmed as a type 3 upper lip tie. I’d had thrush, mastitis, blocked ducts and toe curling nipple and breast pain but everyone was assuring me it was me and my latching techniques…but I just knew it wasn’t that as I’d successfully fed my sons to 18months each. I knew how to latch my baby – something wasn’t rightin her mouth. He poos were onfrequent and strange looking, she vomited all he time and in the early weeks was writhing about it pain whenever she lay down flat. After assessment from a fantastic LC it turns out bub has the lip tie, an asymmetric jaw, a small jaw, bubble pallet and tension in her tongue (we aren’t sure wether to releas the tongue as there is a lot of tissue in the way and it would mean putting her under a general – most docs aren’t keen to do this till baby is at least 6 months old). I’ve been emotionally and physically shattered by this experience and it has affected my relationship with my baby and my husband. I am determined to push on with hope that things improve and she re-learns how to suck properly etc. we are having cranial work by an osteopath and I am also hopefully this will help. Has anyone else gone on to have a pain free and enjoyable feeding experience after a similar start?

  10. Sheena says

    This is what happened to me I didn’t realize my daughter had the lip tie until she was 3 months and the pain was gone. I’ve been struggling with my milk supply but didn’t realize it was due to her tie bc I still feel the letdown. But I discovered it bc of a Facebook group.

  11. Jenny says

    How funny reading this article today. I just had my 2 week old son’s upper lip tie released by Dr. Jesse yesterday! He and his staff are wonderful! I am still having a lot of pain with nursing though, so unfortunately, it hasn’t seemed to help us much. He can open his mouth wider though. I think my baby needs some training on how to suck properly, he doesn’t move his tongue correctly and is causing me pain and not transferring much milk. Any advice on where to go from here? I am pumping right now to save my sore, sore nipples! Anyway, Dr. Jesse is great – I hope more Dr.’s and dentists will become aware of lip (and tongue) ties in the near future.

  12. Ladan says

    Thank you ladies for your kind words and support! Lorena, I hope you find the help of a great lactation consultant :)

  13. Halima says

    Thanks a lot for posting this up! We parents need to either become our own doctors nowadays and research a lot or be lucky with postings like yours.
    You seriously were blessed by finding the baby wearing group post but what about all us other parents who were told our milk supply isn’t enough just bec they couldn’t figure out the real problem of the issue???

    Again thanks a lot for clearing this and opening our eyes…

  14. Lorena says

    Omg, thanks for posting this. I new since my daughter was born that something wasn’t right. She had the gap in her gums and now , she is 6 minths, it is all together. Just last week I took her for her follow up and asked her pediatrician about it, she said exactly what you were told. I will look for help. Thanks again for posting, and I’m glad everything went well with your kids.

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