Let’s Talk About Tongue Ties with Dr. Nasem Dunlop of Treehouse Pediatric Dentistry in South Orange County, CA | Irvine Moms





Having a tongue tie is not just an inconvenience, it can have an impact on newborn health, toddler speech development, and can lead to tooth decay, crowding and gum disease in older children and adults. 


Luckily, it is simple to fix and easy to diagnose. Dr. Nasem has taken many courses from top specialists in the field and has also gained her certification in Lactation Educator Counseling, (CLEC). She is very knowledgeable on ties and the symptoms they present in a nursing mother. We hope you find this information helpful and encourage you to contact our office for a consultation or read our frenectomy information page on our website if you have any questions. 


A frenum (also known as a frenulum) is a band of tissue that connects various parts of the mouth. They are commonly found under the tongue, behind the lips and sometimes behind the cheeks. 


A lip tie occurs when the tissue that connects the lip to the upper gums is too thick or too tight. Lip tie symptoms are mostly related to the frenum behind the upper lip. A lip tie can cause latching difficulties in newborns and infants which can result in pain or discomfort for the mother when nursing. It can sometimes cause symptoms such as reflux or gassiness in your newborn.


The lingual (tongue) frenum is the small fold of tissue connecting the bottom of the tongue to the floor of the mouth. When the frenum is too short, it is known as a tongue tie. This prevents the tongue from moving as much as it should. The medical term for a tongue tie is ankyloglossia. A tongue that appears notched, or heart shaped when stuck out is a sign of a tongue tie.  Other symptoms are difficulty sticking the tongue out past the lower front teeth, difficulty lifting the tongue to the upper teeth, and difficulty moving the tongue from side to side. Tongue ties in newborns and infants can cause difficulty with breastfeeding/ bottle feeding. Toddlers with a tongue tie may have problems with eating and speech development. Brushing their teeth and swallowing can also be challenging with a tongue tie.


Some people are born with a frenum that is too short or too thick, which can prevent the tongue or lips from moving as freely as it should. Think of having your arm tied to the side of your body, it may still function as an arm/hand but having the tie released gives the arm so much more free movement! 


Depending on the age of your child and their tongue’s restriction, a tongue or lip tie can lead to problems with infant feeding (breastfeeding or bottle feeding), speech development, eating solid foods, and more. Issues with frenums are commonly called tethered oral tissues or tongue/lip ties. Fortunately, these issues can be corrected through a simple surgical procedure called a frenectomy. A frenectomy is a procedure to repair the frenum by eliminating its restriction. The goal is to remove excess tissue from the frenum to allow a greater range of motion in the tongue or lip. The best way to release the tissue with the least amount of pain during and post op is with a carbon dioxide laser (CO2 laser), this is how Dr. Nasem performs the procedure at Treehouse Pediatric Dentistry. The use of this laser allows for only topical numbing creams, little to no bleeding and no sutures. It can generally be completed in minutes. The age at which a frenectomy can be completed depends on the symptoms that the patient develops. There are no age or size limitations that would prevent a patient from having the procedure done. For newborns and infants, the procedure can be completed as soon as they are discharged from the hospital, and sometimes in the hospital. 


Checking for tongue and lip ties is another great reason to be sure your child visits our office by their first birthday. We can check to make sure all components of their mouth have the range of motion needed for eating, drinking, speaking, and brushing. Call us today to schedule a consultation! You may also email Dr. Nasem for any questions: [email protected]

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