When a baby is born you expect them to learn to latch onto mother’s breast within the first few hours. This does not happen all the time. Reasons can be that the frenum is too tight. What are frenums? Look in the mirror and put your fingers inside your cheek then place your teeth together. When you stretch the cheek you will notice there is tissue attaching your cheeks to the jaw and tongue. These are frenums. If you lift your tongue and sweep a finger under it, or along your inside check there should be no obstructions. If there are, your frenum is too tight.
When a baby has a tongue -tie it can range from the tip of their tongue (anterior tie) to further back (posterior tie). Most times the most severe tongue-ties are seen immediately and can be corrected at birth. However, what is missed is the posterior ties or the not so anterior ties. This can cause a lot of problems to the babies. Feeding can be an issue since they can’t latch on properly. They can’t drain the breast properly. Swallowing the milk can be difficult. You can’t control the flow of the milk and the baby may choke. The only way to control the milk will be to clamp on the nipple. The baby falls asleep when feeding because they are using other muscles to suck the milk from the nipple. Weight gain is a not an indicator for the lack of tie. Your baby may be weight gaining due to oversupply of milk or is bottlefed too. To the mother it can be blocked ducts, sore or cuts on the nipple, oversupply, undersupply and early weaning.
A tongue is needed to feed properly. It also helps shape the palate and jaw. When the tongue is tied to the jaw the palate cannot be shaped properly. Sucking is also a comfort for babies. If they cannot place their tongue to the roof of the mouth to create a sucking motion they seek other things suck as fingers and pacifiers to create that comfort feeling. A lot orthodontic problems can develop with both lip and tongue-tie.
Don’t forget that there is also lip tie. The top lip can have a thick band that attaches close to the ridge of the jaw. This can affect the seal that is needed to create suction for feeding. A baby can develop blisters on the lip. It can also be difficult to keep top front teeth clean because there is the band that is obstructing the toothbrush. Front teeth caries can develop due to difficulty to cleanse the teeth.
Once identified you can easily release a tie. Several health care providers that can assist in tie-release or frenectomy include Pediatrician, ENT, Pediatric Dentists, and Oral Surgeons. Usually a lactation consultant can help direct you in the right direction.
Before you give up on breastfeeding look first and see if there are any obstructions in your baby’s mouth.