New mothers know that breastfeeding is often not as easy or natural as it looks; it takes a while to figure out positioning and how to properly latch the baby onto the breast. Once you figure it out though, breastfeeding can be a wonderful way to bond with your baby. But for some newborns, that proper “latching-on” just never happens, leaving moms and infants frustrated. There can be many reasons, but for four to 10 percent of newborns, this improper latch is due to tongue-tie, a condition that can now be quickly and easily resolved with a laser frenectomy procedure.
What is Tongue-Tie?
Ankyloglossia, or tongue-tie, is a condition where the frenulum, the soft tissue connecting the underside of the infant’s tongue to the bottom of the mouth, is too short or thick, limiting movement. For about half of the babies with this condition, this makes it difficult for the infant to latch properly and breastfeeding becomes complicated.
How Does Tongue-Tie Affect Breastfeeding?
Without a proper seal babies aren’t able to nurse efficiently and this leads to slow growth and improper nutrition. For mothers, this uneven latching means that the milk ducts aren’t being emptied properly, causing a decrease in milk production, sore nipples and often mastitis (breast infection). Though sometimes the frenulum stretches and some infants are able to breastfeed even though they have this tongue-tie condition, more severe cases often require a laser frenectomy procedure to correct the problem, allowing a better latch and proper suction.
How Can Laser Frenectomy Help?
In the past, ankyloglossia surgery involved anesthesia, scalpels and stitches, but with the advancement of laser technology, trained professionals within a pediatric dental group can now use a laser to loosen the frenulum with little pain in a matter of minutes. There are a few side effects to a laser frenectomy procedure and recovery is very fast. Infants who undergo this procedure are usually able to breastfeed immediately afterward. Professionals debate about how soon ankyloglossia surgery should be done. Some think it should be done even before the newborn leaves the hospital, while others prefer to see how much the condition will affect breastfeeding.
The benefits of breastfeeding abound. For babies, breastmilk provides the perfect nutrition, bonding time with mom and an added dose of antibodies. For mothers, breastfeeding increases bone mass, decreases cancer risks, releases oxytocin and saves money. With all these benefits, it may be worth the effort to consult with professionals about a laser frenectomy procedures on babies to see this may help your tongue-tied infant.