For any Mama who has tried to breastfeed, you know it’s one of the most challenging (and surprisingly challenging!) aspects of the newborn experience. A baby with a lip or tongue tie can cause even more breastfeeding difficulty. We sat down with the Beach Cities own Dr. Shari Carroll, to explain exactly what this condition is, how it can be fixed, and why she offers the complex procedure in her pediatric dentistry practice.
I’m going to be honest…I don’t really understand what a tongue tie is. Can you explain it?
A lip or a tongue tie refers to the frenum attachment in your mouth. Everyone has a frenum! When someone has a “tie” is means the frenum is restricting tissue in your mouth. If a baby has restricted lips or tongue, it is really difficult to latch.
Yeah sounds like that would be really hard if you’re trying to breastfeed. How does it affect the latch?
Breastfeeding takes a lot of work! A newborn baby has to use the tongue and lip a certain way to maintain a good latch. A lot of times if there is a restriction in the mouth, a baby can have difficulty feeding, leading to poor weight gain, sleepy feeds, and discomfort for Mom.
So how would I know if my baby has an issue?
First and foremost, I recommend seeking lactation support from an experienced provider. I really encourage Mom’s to first try and work on things like milk production issues, diet-related reflux, breastfeeding positions, and muscle function before doing anything surgical. If a baby is a candidate for a frenectomy, I can do the procedure quickly and easily using a laser. My patients will usually feed right afterwards in our private breastfeeding room.
Seems like a very specialized procedure that not a lot of dentists perform. Why do you?
I started doing this procedure on babies about 6 years ago because of my own issues breastfeeding my daughter. I had a really tough time and now I focused on making sure no other mom has to navigate what I went through years ago! I am lucky to have now treated hundreds of babies over the years with lip and/or tongue ties and it has become one of my favorite parts of my practice. I love working to support the breastfeeding dyad. My whole team gets excited when we have a patient that had a frenectomy done at a few weeks old come back for their first real dental check-up around their 1st birthday. It brings everything full circle for us!
Dr. Shari and her team provide pediatric dentistry for infants, toddlers, and children with special needs. Dr. Shari Carroll is a board certified pediatric dentist holding hospital privileges at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and Torrance Memorial Hospital. Our office provides personalized pediatric dentistry to accommodate children’s unique needs in the dental office including a sensory room for children with special needs.
You can learn more about Dr. Shari by visiting her website, Redondo Beach Kids Dentist, or at her office – 1611 S. Catalina Av, Suite 100, Redondo Beach, CA 90277, (310) 357-4414