Our baby has a lip tie and we had no idea

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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. 

The treatment

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 lazering 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. 

19 COMMENTS

  1. I could have wrote this entire blog myself! I am experiencing the exact same thing with my 4th child. I have never experienced this with my other children!
    I want to thank you for writing this… I have been going through a rollercoaster of emotions. My fault, my regrets, denial, worry… You brought something huge to my attention–painful brushing because of the lip tie! How could I not think of that before?! I just thought my sweet girl just really hated having her (top) teeth brushed!
    So… I opted for the SDF treatment and it turned the decayed areas BLACK. It is not pretty but it is working! Thanks for sharing your story.

  2. I’m so glad I came across this. This is exactly what we’re going through, except I’ve been to our dentist twice in the past year showing my daughter’s teeth getting worse and he’s never suggested lip tie and has said there’s nothing we can do! I’m now going to go get a second opinion. Please do a follow up, my daughter’s teeth are getting really bad now and she’s nearly 2, they definitely won’t last much longer without treatment.

    • Oh my goodness Penny!! Are you in Orlando? If so, go see Dr.Marcy Keown!! Or Dr. Troy King, ASAP. They are both wonderful!! I am definitely going to do a follow up post. Lot’s of hugs <3

  3. We are currently going through this! Our youngest daughter (20 months old) has both tongue tie and lip tie and just a few months ago we noticed small indents on her two front teeth. Dentist confirmed tooth decay and we began fluoride with silver treatments. Unfortunately, I’m worried that her decay is spreading because her entire tooth is beginning to turn a light grey color. We are taking her to another dentist tomorrow for a second opinion. We also have trouble with brushing her teeth she does not like it at all, so we let her hold her toothbrush and try guiding her hand. I’m so frustrated by this whole situation and I feel horrible for not catching the tooth decay earlier.

    Shortly after she was born were told by her Pediatrician that she had tongue tie/lip tie and around one month old she had the laser procedure done for both. Sadly, the lip tie reattached and I’m not too sure about the extent of her tongue tie. Her speech doesn’t seem affected by this, but she does snore at night and had GERD as an infant. I hope we hear good news tomorrow when we go to the dentist, also wishing you guys the best.

    • Oh mama, I feel your pain. She doesnt like her teeth brushed b/c it hurts!! We went through this with our guy. Nothing was working for him, it was getting worse and worse and that ultimately led to the surgery. Try Dr. Marcy Keown n East Orlando! She was AMAZING!!

  4. Omg same problem here! My daughter is 10 months and I just discovered it. I feel TERRIBLE. I took her to the pediatrician and she said to “wait and see” but I want a pediatric dentist to look at it asap. Her lip tie is attached all the way back past her teeth and to the roof of her mouth!! There is a big gap between her top 2 teeth. Her top 4 teeth are already grey. I can’t ever see them unless I hold her down while she screams and pull up her lip, which I’m sure hurts her. I am so sad. I was very conscious of not oral care and feel so disappointed and guilty. Did anyone get the lip tie cut this young?

  5. DJ, where is she getting the surgery? The best advice I can give you is to get out of your own head. I was absolutely freaked out about the thought of my little one going under anesthesia. But, the procedure went great everything was fine I could have used a little mental preparation before hand. My advice would be to meditate or practice breathing exercises during the surgery… And afterwards I would cuddle her and plan to spend the whole day tending to her. My son woke up early from the anesthesia and was all out of sorts for a good hour afterwards. I literally spent the entire day holding him. Be prepared for swelling… Ours was worse than normal (words from the doctor) and I wasn’t mentally prepared for that. All in all, it’s not a terrible experience… It’s just the fact that it’s your baby.

    • Thank you! I think I may be psyching myself out a bit. Completely freaked About my sweet baby going under anesthesia. I will practice mediation and some breathing exercises. She is having surgery here in Wexford–right outside of Pittsburgh. The dentist says the procedure will be pretty quick, about 15 minutes.. Can I ask, what exactly did they do with your little one’s teeth?

    • Hi there! They cut his lip tie (which was worse than they thought) and they had to cap his 4 front teeth with veneers. They also put silver caps on his back two molars. Took about an hour and a half.

      • Eryn, hi! Thank you for all of your responses. My little one had surgery this morning.
        They capped her four top front teeth. It took less than an hour but she napped a while after.
        Did your son’s teeth look a little big to you? I’m hoping as she gets older they fit better. It could be the swelling.

  6. Thank you all for sharing! When my baby girl was a few months old I mentioned the lip tie to our pediatrician, but she wasn’t so concerned about it. I had pain when breastfeeding, but I was able to push through it (also helped she was my second so I had a little more tolerance 🙂 ).

    But recently, I noticed she wouldn’t let me even get the toothbrush near her top teeth & the lip tie just looks uncomfortable & that it’s not resolving. We have moved & I just took her to a new pediatrician for her 1 yr well check & my #1 concern was that lip tie! She gave me the info for both a pediatric dentist closeby who could laser it or a pediatric ENT who is about an hour away.

    Do any of you moms have experience with a pediatric ENT vs a pediatric dentist? I called the pediatric dental office today & am not 100% sure I want to go that route…I’m wondering if a seeing a specialist right away might be better (something I should have done months ago).

    Also, do you have any recommendations with laser vs cutting a lip tie? For some reason, I just think a laser would be better, but I need to do more research.

    Wow, I also had no idea babies could get tooth decay from breastmilk!! Now I know why my pediatrician wanted me to stop breastfeeding at night, but I haven’t because I like to let little one ween herself at her own pace 🙂

  7. Hi Celine,

    We had his cut. There were stitches that dissolved after a week or so. We choice dentist b/c she had done so many of these in the past and his issue was directly related to his teeth…his top 4 teeth had to be capped (so he basically has baby veneers) and the back 2 molars have a metal covering over them.

    I am still night nursing..he just isnt ready yet…and he is my last baby, so what baby wants, baby gets 🙂

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