As general dentists, we aren't classically trained to recognize - much less treat - infants, but that needs to change. Many women struggle to nurse and often report that it is extremely painful. This pain leads to their milk not coming in or them becoming heavily dependent on supplements to maintain the baby's weight. During improper breastfeeding the baby suffers from sucking in air, which results in gastric reflux and gas following each feeding. We as dentists can help support these families!
I wanted to post a unique case study highlighting my own newborn daughter, Blair. It's unique because she's my own child that I treated but also had the ability to document more than I would have for any other patient in the practice. My goal is to give you a general understanding of what to look out for when examining infants AND what a laser wound looks like so you can understand what parents are seeing throughout the healing process.
When my wife and I brought Blair home, we immediately struggled with feeding. My wife's supply had come in, but during each feeding Blair struggled to flange her upper lip outward, which resulted in a shallow nipple latch. When this happens babies tend to nibble and compensate with their lip muscles. This tends to be painful for the mother, and the baby cannot get as much milk as they need. As a result, the baby tires and falls off the breast.
In consultation with a lactation specialist, we decided to revise the lip a few days after Blair was born. This helped with her latch and became more comfortable for my wife...however, this type of treatment is not necessarily cut and dry. Several weeks later, Blair developed a clicking and sucking noise that was indicative of a tongue restriction. She also developed significant gas pain following feedings. We decided to revise the mild tongue tie, and those subsequent issues have since improved.
Treating infants is truly one of the most rewarding procedures that I do. Treating my own daughter was certainly nerve-racking...but worth it. I would highly encourage dentists to seek training as it relates to diagnosing and treatment planning infant frenectomies.
We offer a course at the Wendell Learning Center dedicated to this very topic. It's taught by Jared Poplin, a board certified pediatric dentist, who utilizes the Solea laser. Our next course will be May 21/22, 2021