Run your tongue along your gums above your top row of teeth. Right in the middle, you should feel a band of connective tissue called a frenulum. The purpose of the frenulum between your upper lip and gums is to stabilize your lip. It’s especially important in kids because it helps to keep their lips in place even as their faces grow and change.
You can have too much of a good thing, though. Specifically, if the frenulum is too thick or attaches too far down, your child can get diagnosed with a lip tie. This condition can make breastfeeding particularly challenging.
If you think your child might have a lip tie, visit Irene Zaki, DDS, here at Happy Teeth Children’s Dentistry in Riverside, California. As a specialist in pediatric dentistry, she knows what this tissue should look like and can help you spot a lip tie in your child.
Let's take a closer look at this condition to help you decide if you should bring your child to Dr. Zaki to check for a lip tie.
Understanding lip tie
Your child has a lip tie when the frenulum connecting their upper lip to their upper gums is too tight.
Sometimes, you can spot it yourself. If you see a thick tissue fan under your child’s upper lip, you should have an oral health expert like Dr. Zaki evaluate their mouth.
Lip ties come in different forms depending on what’s going on with that connective tissue. Generally, your child only needs treatment if the lip tie causes symptoms. With that in mind, let’s discuss some common signs of this condition.
What to look for
In many cases, a lip tie becomes apparent during breastfeeding. The limited mobility in the baby’s upper lip can make it hard to get a good seal and cause challenges like:
- Trouble latching
- Slow weight gain
- Long feedings
- Milk leaking from the baby’s mouth while feeding
- A callus on the baby’s upper lip
- Nipple pain or decreased milk production in the mother
Lip tie doesn’t just affect infants, though. You might notice the signs of it in your toddler or child, including:
- Receding gums, especially between the two front teeth
- A space between the two front teeth
- Misalignment of the teeth
A lip tie can also make brushing your child’s teeth harder, heightening their risk for cavities.
Fortunately, if you think your child might have a lip tie, you can start with an appointment here at Happy Teeth Children’s Dentistry. Dr. Zaki can assess your child’s frenulum and help you make a plan. In some cases, that might mean a frenectomy, which releases that tissue to give them more mobility in their upper lip.
To learn more or to have Dr. Zaki look at your child’s frenulum, call our office or book an appointment online today.