Our youngest is 18 months old and we just found out that he has a lip tie. We were floored- we had no idea that this was even a thing. We’ve heard of being tongue tied, but not lip tied.
What is a “Lip Tie”?
A lip tie is when the piece of tissue connecting the upper lip to the upper gum restricts the mouth’s mobility because it is too thick, too tight, or both.
So, I’m sure you’re wondering how did you discover this…
How it began
I’ll start from the beginning….when my baby started getting his teeth, we began brushing (or attempting to brush) his teeth. But what a struggle. I would have to pin him down while he kicks, cries and bats the toothbrush the whole time. It is a mission! I thought that he was just being a pain and did not want me in his mouth or to be held down. I had no idea that there was more to what was going on.
A few months ago my husband noticed that his 4 front top teeth looked a little discolored. But because it is SO hard to get into his mouth, I hadn’t noticed. I really did not think much of it until my husband forced his way into his mouth to rub his teeth. He asked me to do the same thing so that I could feel it, because he was worried that there was something wrong. To my surprise, there was an indentation on his tooth.
We had no idea what it was or what was going on, so we called a pediatric dentist.
Before they even evaluated him, they explained that it could be “bottle rot”. He has always been exclusively breast fed, and now he eats regular food…and a lot of it, but he still nurses. It seemed to me that nursing at night was causing this.
They also explained that they typically see this with lip tied and tongue tied babies. But because I did not have any problems breastfeeding, it probably was not the case because we would have likely known about this already.
They began the exam and immediately noticed that he is lip tied! (The first thing they did was lift his upper and lip and BAM! Lip Tied!) I could not believe it because we had ZERO nursing issues. He is 18 months old…how could we just now find this out? He somehow was able to master breastfeeding even though he had this problem. We never had a clue.
The lip tie was causing breast milk to pool in his upper lip over his front teeth while he slept. Thus causing tooth decay, A.K.A. bottle rot.
What causes a “Lip Tie” and how common is it?
Though there is not solid data to explain why a lip tie happens, multiple studies suggest that a similar condition, tongue tie, is hereditary.
Some doctors say that a lip tie is much less common than a tongue tie. A tongue tie is more likely to affect breastfeeding because the tongue is not able to move up. Regardless, a lip-tied baby can have trouble breastfeeding because it is harder to flange the upper lip.
According to KiddsTeeth.com, there are four different classifications of lip ties and each looks a little different based on the severity of the lip tie.
Classification #1 No significant attachment
Classification #2: Attachment mostly into the gum tissue
Classification #3: Attachment where the future upper front teeth will be
Classification #4: Attachment that extends to the palate of the mouth
I felt like a terrible mother. How did I not notice? It was my fault for nursing him to sleep. I should have paid more attention to his teeth. The list goes on. I felt awful.
Once they began explaining how we can treat this, I got even more upset. Apparently, there are several stages to the bottle rot that is from his lip tie.
Stage #1: White marks on the teeth
Stage #2: Brown spots as decay begins
Stage #3: Decay that causing the enamel to wear down
We are Stage #3. When he smiles and talks you don’t see or even really notice anything on his teeth. And like I mentioned earlier, we brush his teeth. I pin him down and he screams….and guess why??? Because it HURTS the lip tie area. Again, the guilt.
We were able to begin the treatment of Anderson’s bottle rot immediately. The dentist did a fluoride treatment on him and we go back for a second treatment in 8 weeks. We have to switch from non-fluoride baby toothpaste (usually recommended for use until 24 months) to the same toothpaste that our 5 year old uses (which has fluoride). We now have to brush his teeth 3 times a day and wipe his teeth after he nurses. Luckily, he does not drink anything in a cup other than water, so that is helpful. As long as we can stop the bottle rot from developing more, we will be OK. In the event that it gets worse after the 2 fluoride treatments, we go to plan B.
Plan B is not something that I am looking forward to. Plan B requires sedation to treat the decay on the surface of his front teeth. I am not interested in this. But if it is needed, then I will need to get over it. Additionally, they can kill the area until treatment, but that will turn his teeth black in that area.
Let’s pray that the treatment works and that Plan B is not an option.
After all the bottle rot talk we were still left wondering what we do about the lip tie. Due to the fact that it has not been an issue with breastfeeding or talking up until this point, we are going to treat the bottle rot first and deal with the lip tie later. But, it could potentially be a problem down the road (it can cause a gap and be problematic if braces are needed). The way they treat the lip tie is simply lasering the area. Super simple fix with minimal pain and recovery.
Please tell me that I am not the only one that has gone through this. My 4th child and this is a first for me.