Tongue-Tied Newborn? 3 Reasons To Opt For A Frenectomy Now Instead Of Later

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Have you recently had a baby who has been diagnosed with ankyloglossia, or tongue-tie? If so, your pediatrician has likely given you 2 options -- get a referral to a dentist so a frenectomy can be performed now or wait for your child to get older to go ahead with the procedure. Check out these 3 reasons why it's a good idea to get your child a frenectomy sooner rather than later.

Breastfeeding Difficulties

Having ankyloglossia puts your baby at an increased risk of breastfeeding difficulties. The tongue plays an immensely important role in breastfeeding. It guides the nipple into the mouth and then curves to form a channel in which the milk can flow to the back of the throat. If your newborn's frenum is too tight, his or her nipple draw will be shallow, and they'll have a hard time sucking and swallowing the milk in the proper manner.

Some babies with ankyloglossia try to compensate for their weak latch by biting down on the breast. The result is an extremely sore mother and a baby who may not be getting all the nutrition they need. If you breastfeed, it's not always immediately apparent whether or not your baby is getting enough milk. By opting for a frenectomy in infancy, you can rest assured that your baby's frenum won't preventing them from getting the nutrition they need.

If you decide against getting your infant a frenectomy, watch carefully for any signs of breastfeeding difficulty, and seek medical help immediately if you suspect your child isn't getting enough milk. 

Speech Delays

Your tongue uses a wide range of movements in order to produce all of the sounds in the English language. The most intensive development period for forming speech skills starts at birth and goes to the age of 3. In a child with ankyloglossia, the tongue is tethered to their mouth's floor, so oftentimes they cannot effectively create the movements necessary for normal speech development. 

While it's true that not every case of ankyloglossia results in speech problems, not undergoing a frenectomy in infancy could leave your child missing out on practicing sounds and words during their prime speech development period. If you choose to wait to have a frenectomy done when your child is older, the possibility of delayed speech exists.

If you opt to wait for the procedure, learn at what age you should expect your child to exhibit speech milestones, and consult a doctor if you suspect they've missed one.

Anesthesia-Associated Risks

General anesthesia poses all sorts of risks ranging from nausea to tooth damage, hypothermia, embolisms, and even brain damage. As long as you have your baby's frenectomy done before they reach 9 months old, they won't be subjected to these risks. When the procedure is performed on an infant, a topical anesthetic is applied to the frenum, the infant is swaddled in a blanket so they can't thrash around, and the frenum is quickly clipped with surgical scissors or cut with a laser. 

Things get a little more complicated when the procedure is done on an older child. Because older children have the wits about them to fear the procedure and can put up quite a fight in the dental chair, they often need to be put under general anesthesia in order to complete their frenectomy. In these cases, the child is not only exposed to the frenectomy-associated risks, but they're exposed to general anesthesia-associated risks as well. 

If your newborn was born with ankyloglossia and you've been given the option to have a frenectomy done now or to wait until your child gets older, consider going ahead and asking your doctor to refer you to a dentist that will perform the procedure. Having your baby's frenum clipped while they're in their infancy could improve their ability to feed, reduce their risk of delayed speech, and save them from unnecessary health risks associated with the use of general anesthesia. For more information on this procedure, check out a website like