This post is sponsored by our friends at Dr. Bob Pediatric Dentist. All opinions are those of the author.
As I see posts and stories highlighting Breastfeeding Awareness Month, I can’t help but think of my own breastfeeding journeys. I nursed my son for 12 months and my daughter for 23.5 months, but could not have done it without the support of my community–my husband and extended family, my amazing doula, gifted lactation consultants, friends, my OB, and our pediatrician. And I am so thankful.
Health Benefits of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding offers many health benefits for both baby and mom. Research shows that breastfed babies generally have lower risks of developing asthma, childhood obesity, ear infections, lower respiratory infections, SIDS, and Type 2 diabetes. For moms, breastfeeding can also lower the risks of some types of breast and ovarian cancers. Not to mention the support breastfeeding provides for emotional intelligence and early brain stimulation. So cool!
Common Breastfeeding Challenges
All of that being said, breastfeeding can be challenging. Some common challenges include soreness, engorgement, plugged ducts, and mastitis, in addition to feelings of exhaustion and depression. Doulas, lactation consultants, midwives, and OBs can be wonderful sources of help and support on your breastfeeding journey… but so can your pediatric dentist!
Identifying and Treating Tongue-Ties & Lip-Ties
Tongue and lip-ties can significantly interfere with breastfeeding. Though they can be diagnosed a few days after birth, they are sometimes overlooked as root issues contributing to breastfeeding difficulties. In infants and children with tongue and/or lip-ties, the frenulum–that little fibrous tissue that connects the tongue to the bottom of the mouth and the lips to the gums–is too short. This restricts the movement of the tongue or lips and interferes with an infant’s ability to latch and nurse effectively.
Two of the biggest indicators of tongue and/or lip-ties are infants who have difficulty latching, or if the mother experiences pain while nursing.
Other symptoms of a tongue or lip-tie include:
Poor weight gain
Clicking or gulping sounds while the baby is nursing
Sore nipples resulting from gumming or chewing
A nursing ulcer on the baby’s lip
Long nursing sessions
WaterLase iPlus Laser Frenectomies
Dr. Bob Pediatric Dentist totally supports breastfeeding moms! In fact, it’s one of the main reasons why Dr. Christopher Bob became specially certified to diagnose and treat lip and tongue-ties–so that he would be able to perform virtually pain-free frenectomies on infants who are having issues latching and/or causing moms pain while nursing without impeding breastfeeding.
Unlike traditional surgery, the WaterLase iPlus Laser uses concentrated light and water to cut the frenulum. Because it is a quick and painless procedure, there is no need for anesthesia. This allows for a shorter healing and recovery time which means mom and baby can be in, out, and on their way to a smoother breastfeeding experience. You can read more about tongue and lip-ties and Dr. Bob’s specific expertise in this post from our Ask Dr. Bob series.
Here to Support You
However long your breastfeeding journey is, Dr. Bob is here to support you. Some moms are only able to nurse for a short time, while others continue for many years! Each journey is personal and each milestone is significant. The only downside to nursing past one year is the possible development of a malocclusion–which is about the same as continued use of a baby bottle or a pacifier. But not to worry! Dr. Bob and his team regularly check for malocclusions and evaluate for orthodontic concerns during routine cleanings and exams, and refer patients to be evaluated by a board-certified orthodontist if needed.
Breastfeeding, pumping, supplementing, formula… at the end of the day, fed is best. Just be sure to remove the excess milk off the teeth after feeding to reduce the risk of cavities and tooth decay. For more on this topic, check out this post about establishing good oral hygiene for infants.
Schedule a Consult Today
Breastfeeding can be an incredibly beneficial and positive experience for you and your baby. If you’re wondering if a tongue or lip-tie is getting in the way of a positive breastfeeding experience, schedule a consult with Dr. Bob today! He and his team have gone above and beyond to implement the highest protocols and procedures to ensure patient safety. You can read more about what you can expect at your appointment here or by calling the office at 305-397-8214. They’d love to hear from you!