Let’s assume for a moment that breastfeeding is not important. That the oral development that breastfeeding provides is inconsequential. We’ll ignore all of that so that I can give you a few other reasons to agree to have your tongue-tied baby’s frenulum clipped. Just in case the possibility of pain free, effective breastfeeding is not a good enough reason.
There are health care professionals out there who do not “believe in” freeing a tongue tied baby’s tongue “just” so he can breastfeed. “After all, you can just feed your baby pumped milk or formula from a bottle.”
You might be wondering about that yourself. You don’t want your baby to experience any pain—not even for a second! And, up until the moment your lactation consultant told you your baby is tongue tied, you’d never heard of such a thing. Why should your baby have a frenotomy (clipping the frenulum) when it’s only going to help with breastfeeding and breastfeeding? I’ll tell you why. Because freeing the tongue with a quick clip now may help your baby avoid health problems in childhood and even into adulthood.
The tongue is a strong muscle and that frenulum is a tight cord that is constantly pulling on the floor of the mouth and/or the lower gum ridge (called the alveolar ridge) with movement of the tongue. Without normal tongue movements the oral cavity does not develop properly and since one body part is connected to the other, problems can occur in the rest of the body also. Here are some effects of tongue tie that are not breastfeeding related.
- Ineffective oral hygiene
- Tooth decay
- Excess saliva production—frenulum pulls salivary glands to an abnormal position.
- Crowding of teeth—especially lower teeth
- Lisps and other speech impairments
- High, arched or “bubble” palate
- Sleep apnea
So now you know. Perhaps that frenotomy doesn’t sound so bad after all!
Written by Renee Beebe, M.Ed., IBCLC. Renee is a lactation consultant in private practice in Seattle, Washington. She is available for home/hospital visits and phone consultations. Renee can be reached at www.second9months.com