The Discovery of the Upper Lip Tie

At Makenzie’s 12 month appointment 5 months ago her pediatrician was looking inside of her mouth and noticed that she had what she thought was an upper lip tie or upper lip frenulum. She recommended we set up an appointment with Dr. Paul, a pediatric plastic surgeon in the Quad Cities. On the day of her appointment with Dr. Paul, he took a look at her upper lip and said on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the worse; hers fell at a 7 and recommended that we clip it.

What is a Lip Tie?
A lip tie is when the lip is attached to the gums. This can really range in severity and there are degree’s that define how severe of a lip tie it is. It is really common for people to have some kind of lip tie but only when it is severe or causing medical issues does it need to be corrected. What problems can it cause? 
Problems are mostly seen by the breastfeeding mom. A severe upper lip tie can cause a shallow latch, the inability to flail lip out adequately (incorrect latch), slow growth (due to poor nursing), and pain for the mom while nursing. In addition to this, it can cause a severe gap between the front teeth when the tie comes down between them, tooth decay in the front teeth, speech difficulties from the limited mobility of the upper lip, and problems with it tearing and causing pain in rough play or accidents.

What is a labial frenectomy?
The labial frenulum often attaches to the center of the upper lip and between the upper two front teeth. This can cause a large gap and gum recession by pulling the gums off the bone. A labial frenectomy removes the labial frenulum. Orthodontic patients often have this procedure done to assist with closing a front tooth gap. The removal of the frenulum does not cause any adverse effects to the lip and mouth.

Makenzie’s upper lip tie


The interesting thing about her upper lip tie is that at the age of 12 months old, she was gaining weight perfectly on a breastfed and solids diet. Prior to starting solids, the only issue we had nursing was when I would eat dairy thus the reason I cut it out completely at around 10 weeks old. Nursing was never excruciating for me and if her latch did seem shallow it was not shallow enough to cause me any pain or preventing her from receiving a sufficient supply of milk. She was great at nursing but we were worried about the speech difficulties that may go along with it so we scheduled her surgery.

This Wednesday the 8th, we have to be to the Surgery Center by 5:55a to start the surgery by 7a. The surgery itself is pretty quick and generally done within 10-15 minutes. They are putting Makenzie under general anesthesia and will be cutting the frenulum by scalpel. Many of you may already be familiar with a frenectomy from tongue ties but for an upper lip clip tie it can be a bit more than the “snip” we think of for the tongue tie. This is especially true for the most severe degree where it goes into the palate of the gums. There are two different methods for cutting the lip tie and most pediatric dentists are more comfortable with the scalpel method, which is the method Dr. Paul will be using for Makenzie. The tie is cut out and stitches are used to mend the area back together. We’ve also been instructed to give only soft foods for the 7-10 days following surgery. Sorry baby girl, no animal crackers are in your future for a few weeks.

Please say a lot of prayers for Makenzie; between the surgery and her next wonder week to hit in 7 days, she may have a rough start to the 2014 year.

One thought on “The Discovery of the Upper Lip Tie

  1. Debra Hauck says:

    I will keep Makenzie in my prayers and I’m very sorry she has to go through this. I’m sure she is a strong little girl, and will do great. I’ll be thinking about you all. Love ya!

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