women breastfeeding the baby

What Is a Lip Tie?

Babies can be born with a variety of conditions. One condition that some babies are born with is a lip tie. Many mothers, especially those who breastfeed, wonder if there’s something they can do.

This article will give you all of the information you need about lip ties, including explaining:

  • What is a lip tie?
  • How you can recognize a lip tie in your baby.
  • What you can do about it.

By the end, you’ll be feeling much better about your baby’s potential lip tie.

Introduction to the Frenulum

Before answering “what is a lip tie,” it’s essential to understand the part of the body that a lip tie affects: the frenulum.

The lip frenulum is the thin tethered oral tissue band connecting your upper lip to your palate and gums. Most people don’t pay attention to this area of their mouth. However, some people notice this area when they get ulcers. Frenulum piercings have also become increasingly popular.

Everyone has an upper lip frenulum or labial frenulum, but since we don’t pay much attention to it, it’s hard to identify when something is wrong. That said, breastfeeding mothers often notice when something is impeding their child from breastfeeding, sometimes due to the frenulum.

medical inspection of lips

What Is a Lip Tie?

When the frenulum is too stiff or thick, it may impede the movement of your upper lip. This is what is referred to as a lip tie.

Lip ties restrict movement in your upper lip. In babies, this limited upper lip movement can make breastfeeding difficult. It isn’t known precisely what causes this condition, but some studies suggest it is hereditary.

An upper lip tie can sometimes happen in babies, but there’s a much more common condition: tongue tie.

What Is a Tongue Tie?

While lip ties are common in infants, a more common condition is tongue ties.

A tongue tie occurs when the thick, short tissue band below the tongue, called the lingual frenulum, causes it to stick to the floor of the mouth. This can pose a similar difficulty to lip ties in breastfeeding babies.

While tongue ties are more common than lip ties, both are an issue for infants. A severe lip tie can make breastfeeding frustrating for both mother and baby.

Thankfully, a lip tie diagnosis isn’t the end of the world, and there are different things you can do to help you and your baby overcome the experience. Let’s take a look at what can be done.

baby in towel

How to Overcome a Lip Tie

Now that you know what a lip tie is, but what can you do about it?

If you suspect that your baby has a lip tie, there are a few steps you can take to address the issue and ensure your baby’s comfort.

Know the Signs

The first thing to do is to diagnose your baby with a lip tie. The only one who can do this is a medical or dental professional. However, there are some signs to look out for that could help you spot that there’s an issue with your baby’s frenulum, such as:

  • Difficulty breastfeeding
  • Difficulty breathing while breastfeeding
  • Weird sounds while breastfeeding
  • Pain while breastfeeding

If your baby experiences these signs, it’s worth getting them checked out. Your pediatrician may be able to diagnose your baby, but a safer bet is to go to a dentist that specializes in baby lip ties.

Learn Different Feeding Techniques

While a lip tie can be an obstacle when breastfeeding, it’s still possible to breastfeed your baby while they have this condition.

You can practice different latching techniques and find one that works best for your baby. You can also soften your nipple with saliva to make it easier for your baby.

Finally, hiring a lactation specialist may help you figure out a proper latching technique for feeding.

Switch to a Bottle

If breastfeeding your baby doesn’t work with new latching techniques, it may be time to switch to the bottle.

Although this requires extra work to pump and fill the bottle, your baby may be more receptive to a bottle nipple than your own.

women kissing and feeding milk the baby

Lip Tie Surgery

Sometimes, a mild lip tie will correct itself as your baby grows. However, if your baby’s lip tie is severe, or if you find that it’s not getting better, lip tie surgery may be the best solution.

Lip tie surgery is called a frenectomy, and it severs the membrane connecting the lip and the gum using a laser. The process is usually relatively quick and causes little to no pain in your baby.

From there, you can start breastfeeding your baby again to help with recovery and to get them used to it. They should latch on better post-surgery and find more relief in being breastfed.

You should consider lip tie surgery if you notice that your baby is less interested in feeding or that they aren’t gaining the weight they should.

Conclusion: Addressing Your Baby’s Lip Tie

In summary, managing a lip tie in your baby is possible using a series of solutions. If your baby’s lip tie continues to be a problem, you can always opt for a simple lip tie laser surgery to give them the relief they need.

At You Make Me Smile, we perform laser lip tie surgery to increase your baby’s breastfeeding ability and prevent future oral health problems. Book a free consultation today to see how we can help your baby.