The truth about “Lip Tie”

Many parents become concerned about the structure of their baby’s upper lip, its impact on breastfeeding and baby possibly having a gap between the front teeth (diastema) when older. Worry no more – here’s the good news!  Almost all babies have a Labial Frenulum (piece of skin under their top) which joins on to the top gum of their mouth. It is normal anatomy, which naturally changes shape and thickness as the baby grows. Some people believe  the labial frenulum can cause breastfeeding problems if it is a certain shape or thickness, however there is no evidence to support this assumption. The baby’s upper lip only needs to rest in a neutral or slightly everted position to seal at the breast during breastfeeding. It does not need to flange outwards (like a “special K” shape) to breastfeed effectively and comfortably.  Adjustments to positioning and attachment technique can correct ineffective or uncomfortable breastfeeding.  In spite of these facts some practitioners recommend surgically dividing the labial frenulum (also called maxillary frenulum) by scissors or laser (called frenectomy or frenotomy) to improve breastfeeding. This painful unnecessary procedure has resulted in a number of babies being admitted to hospitals due to excessive bleeding, and many others refuse to feed for days or weeks following the procedure.  Another reason parents may believe the “release” or “revision” of a baby’s labial frenulum which someone has identified as a “lip tie” is concern about baby having a gap between the top teeth later in life. However, there is no evidence to support surgically dividing a baby’s labial frenulum for this reason either. This has been confirmed by a recent study involving paediatric dentists and other oral specialists, which indicates surgical division of the labial frenulum should only be considered after the child has all the second teeth in place.

09 Jan 2018| 2 comments.

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