May 2, 2023
Does your child have a lip or tongue-tie? If so, you may be worried that the struggle they experience with breastfeeding or taking a bottle will lead to more troublesome symptoms as they grow older, such as eating solid foods. A pediatric dentist explains what can happen if these tethered oral tissues are left untreated and what you can do to ensure your child receives the proper nutrition they need as they grow older.
What Problems Can Form if a Lip or Tongue-Tie Remains Untreated?
The struggle to breastfeed or take a bottle is often enough to cause a parent to bring their little one in to undergo treatment for a lip or tongue-tie. But if problems do not form until they are a bit older, you may notice other issues can develop, one of which is the inability to eat solid foods.
The tongue plays a vital role in a person’s ability to eat and swallow food. Pushing it toward the back of the mouth so that it is consumed and digested properly ensures that your little one gets the nutrition they need. However, if the tongue remains restricted because of the banded tissue, it will become challenging for them to eat.
As a result, your little one may refuse to eat certain foods, causing them to miss out on valuable nutrients their body needs to grow.
What Kind of Signs Can Signal Eating Problems Caused By a Tongue-Tie?
You’ll want to make sure that watch your child closely when introducing solid foods. If you notice any of the following, you should consider scheduling an appointment with their pediatric dentist:
- They are refusing all kinds of foods
- They struggle to keep food inside their mouth, causing it to become messy
- They throw foods they do not want to eat until they receive a type of food that is easier for them to consume
- Foods with certain textures are consumed (those that can easily dissolve) but not others
How Can a Pediatric Dentist Help?
By bringing your child in for an appointment with a pediatric dentist, you’ll find that they can perform a quick and simple procedure known as a laser frenectomy to release your child’s lip or tongue-tie.
Using a topical anesthetic to numb the area, the dentist will quickly move the laser over the banded tissue, releasing it and allowing the tooth to move more freely from left to right as well as up and down. This immediate improvement will take some adjustment for your little one, as they may be unsure how to use their tongue and/or lip as they should.
Helpful stretching exercises and encouragement will ensure that the tissue does not grow back and that they begin to use their tongue or lip to eat. In turn, you’ll discover they become more confident and willing to try a greater variety of foods.
About the Author
Dr. James Forester is a board-certified pediatric dentist who completed his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree at the University of Pacific’s Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry in 2002. In 2006, he completed a postdoctoral program in Advanced Education in Pediatric Dentistry at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island. Alongside his colleague, Dr. Kristine Fu Shue, the two work together to help children who experience lip or tongue-ties. Providing laser dentistry as an effective form of treatment, we encourage you to visit our website or call (805) 592-2020 to learn how we can help.
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