Lip ties develop when the tissue beneath the baby’s top lip is excessively short and tight, preventing movement of the upper lip. The maxillary labial frenum is the name given to this tissue (you can feel yours if you run your tongue between your upper lip and the top of the gum).
Lip ties, like tongue ties, can cause feeding difficulties when a baby’s lips can’t fit around the nipple and top area of the areola. (The lips should form a suitable seal around them.)
We are all born with frenula, thin membranes found under the tongue and under the top lip, which are small bits of skin in our mouths. Frenula are natural and everyone has them, however in rare situations, the frenulum is overly thick and stiff, limiting tongue and lip movement.
A tongue tie, or ankyloglossia, is a tight, restricted frenulum under the tongue. It is estimated that roughly 10% of children are born with a tongue tie1, while experts argue on how accurate that figure is since the criteria for what constitutes a tongue tie differs from one healthcare professional to the next.
Lip ties occur when the frenulum under the upper lip becomes thick or tight. The majority of people have a very small or non-existent frenulum under the upper lip. However, with a lip tie, that membrane may feel dense and extend all the way to, or close to, the gum line.
Tight oral frenula are thought to be caused by genetic variations, and they frequently run in families. So, if your infant has a lip tie, peek under your own top lip—or your spouse’s lip—and you might find one as well.
WHAT DOES A LIP-TIE LOOK LIKE?
Lip ties vary in appearance depending on their severity: a little, string-like appearance on one end of the spectrum, a large, fanlike band of connective tissue on the other. Babies with the syndrome may develop a callus on their upper lip as well.
The frenulum is rated using four grades in the Kotlow classification system based on appearance. With this approach, the higher the grade, the greater the ‘severity’ of lip-tie and the risk of nursing difficulties.
WHAT EFFECT DOES LIP-TIE HAVE ON BREASTFEEDING?
Similarly, to how not all kids with tongue-tie have difficulty breastfeeding, not all newborns with lip-tie will have difficulty. It is also unclear whether a lip knot can absolutely cause latching or feeding issues.
- Babies with lip ties may experience the following symptoms:
- Awful latch. If your baby makes a clicking or smacking sound when breastfeeding, it could mean she can’t get a proper latch or is frequently losing the nipple.
- Failure to thrive results in sluggish or inadequate weight gain.
- Feeding time is extended.
- Reflux and irritation are common side effects of swallowing too much air.
- A weak seal causes breast milk to flow from the lips.
- Mothers who have lip ties may have the following symptoms:
- Nipple discomfort Reduced milk supply
What is the treatment for lip-tie?
Lip-tie treatment is a bit of a mixed bag, with various professional perspectives.
Some lip ties are left alone and do not require surgical treatment, while others may require a frenectomy, a surgical therapy for lip ties that involves severing the tissue that connects the lip to the gums.
A baby can have both tongue-tie and lip-lie at the same time. A pediatrician may advise releasing both in this scenario. While further research on surgical treatment of lip-tie is required, some evidence suggests that frenectomies improve breastfeeding success.
HOW CAN YOU KEEP NURSING IF YOUR KID HAS LIP-TIE?
If your infant is experiencing difficulty latching on, see a lactation consultant and your baby’s pediatrician to determine if lip-tie is the cause. You could also try:
Nipple shields have special properties. There are several designed specifically for breastfeeding mothers. When utilizing a nipple shield, always consult with a lactation specialist.
Positioning strategically Holding your baby in an unconventional position may improve feeding and allow your kid to connect more fully to your breast. For ideas, speak with your lactation consultant.
Lip tie symptoms
Difficulty breastfeeding is one of the most common indications that your child may have a lip tie or tongue tie. The symptoms include:
- struggling to latch on to the breast
- difficulty breathing during feeding
- making a clicking sound while nursing
- falling asleep often during nursing
- acting extremely fatigued by nursing
- slow weight gains or lack of weight gain
If a child has lip tie, and you’re a breastfeeding mother, you may experience:
- pain during or after breastfeeding
- breasts that feel engorged even right after nursing
- blocked milk ducts or mastitis
- fatigue from breastfeeding constantly even though your child never seems to be full
WHAT EXACTLY ARE TONGUE TIES?
To grasp what you’re looking for, you should first learn about tongue and lip ties. This disorder is recognized medically as “Tethered Oral Tissue.” Tongue ties are also known as “Ankyloglossia.”
Thick or deformed oral tissues produce tongue and lip knots. Tongue ties occur when the lingual frenulum (the membrane that links the tongue to the floor of the mouth) is too thick, too short, or too deformed.
Lip ties are essentially interchangeable. This disease arises when the frenulum that links the upper or lower lip to the gums is excessively thick, too short, or otherwise irregularly developed, resulting in lip movement concerns.
Lip Tie treatment
If you decide to have your baby’s lip tie freed (a treatment known as a frenotomy), you’ll need to find a practitioner you trust who has experience with lip tie releases. This is usually done by pediatric dentists or pediatric surgeons. The surgery is normally performed as an outpatient procedure, and your infant can remain awake. Laser technology or sterile surgical scissors may be used by your provider.
The treatment is usually short and painless for babies—it is usually the parents who are the most concerned about the surgery! The membranes being cut (frenula) are quite thin and normally do not bleed much.