3 Things to Know Before Your Child's Frenectomy

What is a Tongue-Tie?

Healthcare professionals perform frenectomy to address tongue-tie, a common condition that affects about 5 percent of all newborns. Also known as ankyloglossia, tongue-tie can cause a variety of problems for both the baby and the mother, such as difficulty breastfeeding. Frenectomy for children is a safe and reliable procedure that releases tongue-tie. 

Tongue-tie is a condition that affects a baby’s mouth. A small piece of tissue, known as the frenulum, attaches the bottom of the tongue to the floor of the mouth. The frenulum naturally separates from the tongue before birth for most babies. In other children, though, the frenulum can be too short or too close to the tip of the tongue. These children have a tongue-tie and may benefit from frenulum surgery.

1. Does my baby need a frenectomy?

Your baby may need a frenectomy if they have a tongue-tie. 

Only a trained healthcare professional can diagnose a tongue-tie, but there may be signs that your baby has a tongue-tie. Your baby may have a tongue-tie if their tongue is heart-shaped or forms a cup when they cry. A baby with a tongue-tie is not able to lift their tongue normally or move it from side to side. 

Trouble breastfeeding is a main sign of tongue-tie. A baby with a tongue-tie will not be able to latch on correctly, so they do not get the milk they need. Breastfeeding a baby with a tongue-tie can be painful for mom. 

Tongue-tie causes a variety of problems from infancy into adulthood. These issues include: 

  • Breastfeeding difficulties
  • Speech problems
  • Poor oral hygiene that increases risk for gum disease and tooth decay 
  • Inability to do certain everyday activities, such as kissing, licking an ice cream cone, or playing a wind instrument

While these issues might not seem serious at first glance, they can negatively affect your child’s social development, which can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. 

Being unable to latch onto the breast may present a serious problem for your baby, in that infants cannot thrive if they are not getting the nourishment they need. Your baby’s tongue-tie can also be a problem for you, in that latching problems can cause cracks, bruises and pain during feedings; cracks in your skin can lead to infections that can taint the milk supply. 

2. Benefits of a frenectomy

A frenectomy provides a number of benefits to both you and your baby. These benefits include:

  • Pain-free breastfeeding
  • Better latching for better nutrition
  • Stimulation of milk production
  • Creating a pleasant breastfeeding experience, one that allows you to bond with your baby
  • Psychological relief for you – no more worries that your baby is getting enough nutrition
  • Better sleep for your baby and for the rest of your family
  • Helping your baby avoid long-term problems later in life, such as speech issues, tooth spacing, cavities, and other issues associated with tongue-tie
  • Supporting proper swallowing patterns

3. What is laser frenectomy?

Laser frenectomy uses the power of light energy to correct the excessive connection between the frenulum and the tongue. The laser does not cut the tissue, but instead separates the tissue without causing any damage to the soft tissue. This makes laser frenectomy the safest and quickest way to correct tongue-tie.

Little to no preparation is required. You can give your baby acetaminophen (Tylenol) 30 to 60 minutes before the procedure to reduce discomfort, although laser frenectomy causes very little pain. We will apply a numbing cream to the treatment area before we begin. The entire procedure takes about 5 minutes, but the actual laser time is only 15 to 30 seconds. You can give your baby more acetaminophen after the procedure, although your child may not need it. 

Laser frenectomy provides a number of benefits over other approaches to tongue-tie. You can hold your baby during the procedure, for example, and there are no needles, sutures or infections to worry about. Laser frenectomy is also less painful than cutting the tissue - many babies actually sleep through the procedure. There is also less bleeding, as the laser cauterizes (seals) the tissue, nerves, and blood vessels. No recovery time is needed, so you can take your baby home and resume your normal activities immediately after the procedure - you can also breastfeed your baby right away.

Insurance may cover frenectomy cost. Your frenectomy provider can help you develop a plan to cover frenectomy cost if your insurance does not cover it.

At Saginaw Kids Dentistry, we offer laser frenectomy in our office. Our dentists take a holistic approach to diagnosing and treating tongue-tie. If your child is having issues with breastfeeding or moving their tongue, and if our doctors feel that a frenectomy will be beneficial, we’ll be glad to schedule your child for treatment as soon as possible. For more information on what you need to know before your child’s frenectomy, contact Saginaw Kids Dentistry.

Further reading:

Welcome to Saginaw Kids Dentistry

Welcome to Saginaw Kids Dentistry

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Learn More!
Why Choose A Pediatric Dentist Over A General Dentist?

Why Choose A Pediatric Dentist Over A General Dentist?

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Learn More!

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At the heart of Saginaw Kids Dentistry is our passion for meeting families, seeing them grow, and being a trustworthy presence for kids and parents alike. If you’re ready to join our patient family, book a visit online today! We are excited to meet you and your child.

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