For the longest time, lip ties were generally considered a non-issue in the medical field. While it’s known to interfere with breastfeeding, parents were advised to just wait until it resolved itself. Not until breastfeeding advocates and institutions like the American Academy of Pediatrics weighed in on the issue did more parents, guardians, and doctors start paying serious attention to lip ties. Unfortunately, there’s still a ton of misinformation out there despite the rise of new studies, clinical trials, and research into lip ties. In this article, we debunk major lip tie myths and reveal the facts behind this little-known condition.
Common Lip Tie Myths, Debunked
There’s a lot of things doctors won’t tell you about lip ties, and in some cases, even refrain from discussing it.
MYTH: Lip ties are normal.
Most people have a labial frenulum, the strip of tissue involved in lip ties. According to Healthy Children, this tissue is essential for mouth development in the womb, but it’s supposed to recede and become thinner when the job is done. Lip ties occur when the labial frenulum remains thick and tight after birth, thereby restricting lip mobility.
Depending on where the tie is located, some lip ties do not interfere with the movement of the upper lip. However, most lip ties cause significant issues with feeding, speaking, dental health. When this happens, the lip tie is considered abnormal and requires intervention.
MYTH: The Lip ties will go away on its own without treatment.
Some lip ties do go away on their own within a few months up to the first three years of a child’s life. Unfortunately, this is not true for everyone. In fact, the National Institutes of Health warns that most untreated lip ties get worse as the child grows older, eventually causing physical, emotional, and behavioral issues through the years.
MYTH: Lip ties only affect breastfeeding
This myth probably stems from the fact that one of the most obvious symptoms of lip tie is present during breastfeeding. Newborn Care International explains that lip ties can lead to poor latching, colic, failure to gain weight, and other nursing problems for the child. Mothers also experience bruising and pain in the breasts after feeding, as well as weak milk supply.
The truth is that breastfeeding difficulties are only a small part of the problem for lip ties. Feeding issues persist as the child grows up. Children with lip tie usually have a hard time eating with a spoon or with their fingers. Early-onset tooth decay and gum disease are typical. Because the upper lip can’t move or curl freely, children are also in danger of speech delays.
These complications simply continue into adulthood. Periodontal disease, pain in the neck and shoulders, as well as digestive issues are common. Due to a lifetime of compensating for improper upper lip movement, patients may develop maladaptive habits, isolation, anxiety, and depression.
MYTH: Any doctor can treat a lip tie.
False. Numerous medical professionals still refuse to acknowledge the existence of lip ties and actively discourage treatment. Many pediatricians don’t know how to check and classify lip ties. At present, ENTs, lactation specialists, and dentist are your best allies in diagnosing and treating lip tie.
MYTH: Lip ties can be corrected just by massaging the frenulum regularly.
The only effective way to release a lip tie is through frenectomy. During this procedure, a dentist will use a surgical scissor, scalpel, or laser to snip the tie. He might also place stitches or sutures onsite which will melt away in a few days.
Only after the tie is released does massaging the frenulum help. This, in addition to lifting the upper lift three times a day, will prevent the tie from reattaching.
MYTH: You only need frenectomy for lip tie treatment.
Frenectomy addresses the physical aspect of lip tie. For full recovery, however, patients are advised to undergo speech therapy and do lip exercise to help them speak properly and get used to the change. Since lip ties can cause a gap in the front teeth plus numerous dental problems, Parents.com suggests talking to your dentist about how to fix these problems.
While these particular changes do take time, patients experience improvement almost immediately after lip release. They are able to enjoy eating, pronounce certain letters and sounds, less painful jaws, a boost in mood, better sleep, and more.
There’s still a long way to go before lip tie is universally accepted as a valid condition. This has caused many infants, children, and adults to struggle with the consequences of lip tie with no idea what’s causing their symptoms.
Fortunately, there’s a steady and growing movement that’s pushing lip tie to the forefront of public consciousness. Until then, debunking lip tie myths and increasing awareness about this lip tie will help more people break free from this condition.