Frenectomy can help when your baby can’t latch
When a baby cannot properly breastfeed, there are immediate problems for the infant and mother. A baby whose tongue cannot function or has limited mobility because the tongue has an enlarged attachment to the lingual frenum (floor of the mouth) or the upper lip will often be unable to properly latch to the breast. This condition is called ankyloglossia. It can be fixed with an operation, a lingual frenectomy procedure. The frenulum of the tongue (or lingual frenulum) is a small fold of mucous membrane extending from the floor of the mouth to the mid-line of the underside of the tongue. In a frenectomy, this is trimmed to allow the tongue to move freely.
Problems for the infant with Ankyloglossia may include: poor latch resulting in reflux, colic, and excessive gas; inadequate milk intake, poor weight gain, extended nursing episodes, falling asleep, and early weaning from the breast or refusal to breastfeed at all. This robs the child of bonding opportunities and the natural immunities and health benefits that mothers give their babies through breastfeeding. As an untreated child grows older, there may be a diagnosis of tongue tie, causing problems with speech and eating.
Breastfeeding is a health issue
There can be long term problems when babies cannot feed at the breast, and the American Academy of Pediatrics says that “parents should be aware that exclusive breastfeeding is sufficient to support optimal growth and development for approximately the first 6 months of life and provides continuing protection against diarrhea and respiratory tract infection.” They consider breastfeeding an infant a basic health issue, not a lifestyle choice.
Other potential problems for the baby include increased risk of SIDS, developmental abnormalities, dental decay, speech problems, orthodontic problems, esthetic problems, and even future periodontal disease!
The new mother also receives health benefits as well when her baby properly breastfeeds. Poor latching can result in physical breast pain, cracked or bleeding nipples, infection, plugged ducts, etc. It can also be a stimulus for post-partum depression, disappointment, and feelings of inadequacy, frustration, and guilt. Medical benefits for the mother who breastfeeds include easier weight loss and some cancer immunities.
Laser frenectomy cuts with light, not scalpels
By performing a laser frenectomy rather than a complicated conventional surgery, the benefits to infant and mother are clear. Laser surgery is safe and quick, with no known complications. The cutting is done by laser light energy, not scalpels. There is no need for sedation or an operating room, no allergic or drug reactions, there is virtually no chance of infection, the procedure takes minutes in my office, it significantly reduces the risk of any bleeding, and the infant is returned to mom for immediate feeding. Most importantly, laser surgery is more precise! We have special procedures and protocols used to treat these precious infants that reduce anxiety in child and mother.
American Academy of Pediatrics Policy on Breastfeeding Benefits:
For the baby
Breastfeeding decreases the possibility that your baby will get a variety of infectious diseases, ear infections, diarrhea, etc.
For the mother
Breastfeeding mothers return to their pre-pregnancy weight faster and have a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancer. They also experience less postpartum bleeding, as the hormones that help with breastfeeding also make the uterus contract.
For the family
Breastfeeding facilitates bonding. Fathers and other children can participate by helping the mother with burping and rocking the baby, making sure the mother is eating and drinking enough, and helping with breast pump equipment and bottles.
For the community
Breastfeeding is lean, green, and clean. Breastfed babies are at a lower risk of being obese children. Breastfeeding won’t put a huge dent in your wallet, it saves water, and it doesn’t use energy for manufacturing or pollute the environment with garbage or manufacturing air pollution. There is no worry about the risk of contamination from bacteria or other substances. It is always fresh, at the right temperature, and ready to feed!
Frenectomy Post Operative Care
Principles of Oral Wound Healing
Post procedure stretches are key to getting an optimum result. The mouth tends to heal so quickly that the tissue can constrict causing a new limitation and/or the persistence or return of symptoms. Wounds tend to contract towards their center as healing occurs. Also, if you have two raw wound surfaces in the mouth in close proximity, they can reattach. Hence, it is important to keep them stretched open.
Active Wound Management – Stretching Exercises
It is important to remember to stay relaxed, smiling, and positive. You should show your baby or child that not everything is going to be painful, be playful. The exercises are not meant to be forceful or prolonged. Stretching exercises with quick and precise movements are best. A small amount of spotting or bleeding is common while doing the exercises, especially in the first few days.You may use infant Tylenol, children’s ibuprofen (only if older than 6 months), arnica to help with pain. A few drops of Hyland’s Teething Gel can be used during the stretching exercises to lubricate and help relieve some discomfort. Starting a few days after the procedure, the wound(s) will look gooey white and/or yellow in appearance. This is a completely normal inflammatory response. The body’s natural way to make a band-aid.
Upper Lip Stretches
This is the easier of the 2 sites to stretch and if you are doing both lip and tongue, start with the lip. Place your finger under the lip and move it up as high as it will go, until you feel resistance. Then gently sweep from side to side for several seconds. Remember, the goal is to open the opposing surfaces of the lip and gum so they cannot stick together.
Under the Tongue Stretches
Insert both index fingers into the mouth and dive under the tongue and pick up the posterior part of the tongue and lift towards the roof of the baby’s mouth. The tongue needs three separate stretching motions:
Once you are under the tongue, pick up the posterior part of the tongue as high as it will go towards the palate. Hold it there for 3 seconds, relax, and do it again. The goal is to completely unfold the diamond so that you can visualize the entire diamond. The fold of the diamond across the middle is the first place it will reattach.
Place your finger in the middle of the diamond and do a gentle circular stretch for several seconds to dilate or open up the diamond.
Turn your finger sideways and do a rolling pin motion to try and keep the diamond as deep as possible. Start at the fold “center” of the diamond and move to either side of the diamond top and bottom to loosen up the muscles of the tongue and floor of the mouth.
More information at www.drghaheri.com