Q&A Topic: Infant and Pediatric Dental Health
Dr. Benjamin Dancygier
Q: What causes breastfeeding and nursing problems? What signs suggest you might need medical help with your infant?
A: Some babies are born with a tongue-tie, which restricts the tongue’s range of motion due to the thick, tight band of tissue that tethers the tongue to the floor of the mouth. Your baby may have difficulty lifting the tongue towards the roof of the mouth, moving it side to side or sticking the tongue out. Additionally, if the frenulum (a piece of tissue behind your upper lip) is thick or too tight, it can prevent the lip from flanging out or curling up.
Left untreated, this can cause a poor breastfeeding experience for both the baby and mother.Symptoms of a tongue and lip tie affect both the mom and baby. Infant symptoms can include: Clicking sound while nursing, gassiness, gagging, reflux or colic, swallowing air, inflated tummy or bloating, gagging on milk, milk leaking from the mouth or nose during feedings, difficulty swallowing, and a heart shaped tongue or cleft in tip of tongue. Mother’s symptoms can include: cracked, creased, misshapen or blanched nipples; painful nursing or latching, plugged ducts; mastitis; lipstick shaped nipples, and knowing “something isn’t right” compared to a previous breastfeeding experience.
Q: What is an “infant frenectomy” and how does the process work?
A: A frenectomy (Tongue and lip-tie release) is a quick, safe, and fast-healing procedure that helps babies establish a good seal while feeding. We proudly use a CO2 Laser for our newborn and pediatric patients with tongue-tie or lip-tie. The laser handpiece quickly and gently removes the tight tissue with minimal bleeding without ever touching the tissue! Unlike the traditional surgical method, there is no need for stitches. Our laser technology—combined with Dr. Ben’s gentle and compassionate technique and detailed aftercare packet—produces an overall smoother recovery. Within minutes after the procedure, your baby is back in your arms nursing. Mothers generally notice relief of their symptoms and discomfort immediately.
Q: Who else is involved in the process?
A: We work alongside lactation consults and IBCLC’s, doulas, pediatricians, chiropractors, body work specialists, myofunctional therapists, and other professionals to aid in creating a successful bonding experience for a new mother and her infant during breastfeeding.
Q: What can you do when children are little to prevent speech and oral issues?
A: Make sure your child is under the care of a pediatric dentist trained to recognize the effects of a tongue-tie. Visit your dentist twice a year. Long term effects of an untreated tongue-tie include: speech problems, sleep apnea, high vaulted palate (roof of mouth), difficulty chewing and swallowing food, dental decay, crowded dentition, malocclusion, breathing through the mouth instead of nose, gum recession, and head and neck postural problems. If you suspect speech issues, have your child evaluated by a speech and language specialist at an early age.
Q: How can you prepare your child (and whole family) for oral surgery?
A: While it is never easy to watch your little one have a surgical procedure done, the results are often immediate and the benefits can be life changing. We typically see increased tongue mobility shortly after the procedure. Mothers have reported an immediate difference, decreased pain and a deeper latch from the baby. Parents should ask as many questions as they can think of to ensure they feel comfortable with any recommendations.
Prior to every procedure, we review after care instructions with the parents regarding stretches and exercises to help their baby heal properly. We recommend freezing some breast milk in order to give their little one frozen milk chips to help soothe them. We also recommend lots of body contact post operatively. A little discomfort for the baby is normal for the first 24 hours; rarely is Tylenol ever needed. All parents are given a post operative instruction booklet with a number to reach Dr. Ben after hours if needed, even if it is just for reassurance.
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