Dentist in Turlock, CA explains how infant development can be affected by oral issues such as tongue tie
Your baby is one of the most important parts of your life and every parent wants the best for their child, including healthy growth and development. If your child is struggling with breastfeeding, has trouble sleeping, is not growing as rapidly as they should, or is even just irritable and cries frequently, it may signal that they have an issue with their craniofacial development (the development of their facial, head, and mouth structures). Below, Dr. Ramsin Davoud in Turlock, CA explains key infant development concepts and common conditions caused by oral issues that can affect their health. The great news is that many of these conditions are highly treatable and can make a huge impact on not only your child’s development and well-being, but also your peace of mind as a parent.
Newborn babies and infants need only a few things to thrive, and proper nourishment is one of them. A child’s nutritional needs change through their various stages of life.
For newborn babies, breast milk is the best option. It provides every necessary nutrient, from vitamins and minerals to fats, carbohydrates, and proteins that they need, in addition to components that cannot be found in formula, such as antibodies that fight off infections and help protect the baby from a variety of illnesses. It has been shown that breastfed babies are less likely to be overweight, suffer from fewer lung, ear, and urinary tract infections, and are less likely to develop asthma, diabetes, and certain cancers as they get older. That’s why it is important for breastfeeding mothers to have the support they need to be successful, and to seek help if they want to breastfeed but their baby seems to be struggling or not getting enough milk. The benefits of breastfeeding are not just for the baby! Mothers who breastfeed have a lower risk for diabetes and certain types of cancers, burn extra calories, and can more easily bond with their baby. For mothers who are unable to breastfeed or choose not to, formula is the next best option and can provide your baby with the nutrients that he or she needs to grow.
At around six months old, babies are typically ready to begin eating solid foods. Your child’s pediatrician can tell you when your child is ready to start eating table foods and the best first foods to start with. It is important to introduce one food at a time so that any potential allergies can be identified easily. Common symptoms of an allergic reaction include diarrhea, rashes, or vomiting. Serious allergic reactions can cause anaphylaxis, which causes the child’s airway to swell up and can lead to death if not treated rapidly. Some babies, such as those with eczema, may have an increased risk of food allergies, so it is important to work with your child’s pediatrician to determine when to introduce common allergenic foods such as peanuts. Babies under one year of age should never be given honey or unpasteurized foods or beverages due to their risk of infection with harmful bacteria such as botulism or E. coli. Other foods such as juice and cow’s milk should also be avoided before age one because they do not contain the nutrients your baby needs.
As your child grows older, larger pieces of food and harder foods can be introduced. As your child’s teeth come in and they become adept at properly chewing and swallowing food, a wider variety of foods can be introduced. Until your child is three years old, it is not recommended that they be given foods that are choking hazards, such as whole grapes, whole nuts, popcorn, and small hard candies.
Infant growth and development
With the proper nutrition and care, babies often follow predictable growth patterns. The normal infancy growth pattern involves short periods where the baby rapidly grows, commonly known as “growth spurts,” followed by time periods where no growth occurs that is measurable. A little known fact is that children also grow more during certain seasons—so if you notice your baby getting bigger rapidly during the spring and summer, that’s why!
Even though growth happens in spurts, a general upward-trending line is normal, with babies growing the most rapidly in their first three months and then slowing down into a predictable linear pattern after three months. Babies who are formula-fed are more likely to gain weight rapidly after three months and to be classified as overweight. Baby growth charts are commonly used to determine whether a child’s growth is normal for their age, and perhaps more importantly, whether their growth over a certain time period is normal for him or her individually. For example, if a child is consistently in the 60th percentile for height and weight but then suddenly drops to a much lower percentile, it can signal that something is wrong.
If a baby is not growing at the expected rate given their age and other factors, they may have an underlying medical condition that is causing slowed growth. Proper nutrition, as discussed above, is pivotal in helping your baby grow, so one of the first things that should be assessed is whether the baby is struggling to take in enough nutrients.
If a baby is exclusively breastfed, a relatively common issue that can affect their ability to properly latch on and suck milk is a condition called ankyloglossia, commonly known as a tongue tie
. This condition can be identified by Dr. Davoud in a consultation visit with a simple visual examination and by feeling the tissues in your baby’s mouth. Treatment is highly successful at fixing tongue ties; more information on treatment options is below in the Treating tongue and lip ties section.
When your baby is able to breastfeed properly, it not only helps the baby to grow and be less irritable and hungry, but also has many benefits for you as a parent. In addition to relief from the uncomfortable physical symptoms associated with a poor latch such as sore nipples, painful breasts, mastitis, and low milk supply, the emotional stress associated with a cranky, undernourished baby will be eliminated. When your baby is able to easily breastfeed, the risk of early weaning is reduced and both you and your baby will receive the many benefits of a successful breastfeeding relationship.
Other conditions that can be caused by oral development issues
A very common issue in babies is acid reflux—in fact, it is estimated that about half of babies have reflux to some extent. Infant acid reflux symptoms include:
- Arching the back
- Coughing or gagging
- Issues with swallowing
- Refusal to eat
- Slow growth and weight gain
- Wheezing or trouble breathing
Infant acid reflux and sleep are often not compatible with each other because laying on the back can exacerbate the symptoms of reflux. This can cause restless nights for everyone in the house and have a negative impact on not only your baby’s development, but also your health and well-being as a parent.
Breathing is fundamental to life, as it delivers the necessary oxygen to every cell in your body to keep it working properly. The normal infant breathing rate is approximately 30-60 breaths per minute, and breathing rate slows as children get older, with toddlers taking in approximately 24-40 breaths per minute. When a baby breathes, it should be regular and it should not seem like they are laboring to take in a breath, such as by making grunting sounds or flaring their nostrils. Some babies have a condition called sleep apnea, where they temporarily stop breathing while they sleep.
Tongue and lip ties as an underlying cause
While some breathing and acid reflux problems are caused by congenital infant lung issues or problems with their gastrointestinal system, there can also be oral development problems such as tongue ties or lip ties that prevent your child from being able to breathe and eat normally. If a lip tie or a tongue tie is causing the issue, then a simple procedure called a frenectomy can be a highly effective infant acid reflux remedy or can help resolve your child’s breathing or sleeping problems. This procedure is discussed more below in the Treating tongue and lip ties section. When your baby is able to eat, breathe, and sleep better, they will be happier and healthier and you will in turn be less emotionally stressed and able to sleep more.
Treating tongue and lip ties
Tongue and lip ties are fairly common and fortunately, treatment for them is relatively simple and typically has great results. While in some cases, it is best to wait to see if the tongue or lip tie loosens naturally over time, in others, it is advisable to conduct a procedure called a frenectomy
An infant frenectomy is a simple surgical treatment where the piece of tissue causing the tongue or lip tie is snipped while your baby is swaddled comfortably. A frenectomy is quick and painless—it only takes about 15 seconds to complete! By using a laser, Dr. Davoud is able to make precise cuts in the tissue so that only the right amount of tissue is cut – not too much and not too little – for proper release and function. The laser also serves a dual purpose by cauterizing and disinfecting the area as it cuts, eliminating the need for stitches, minimizing healing time, and reducing the chance of side effects from the treatment. Because the frenulum has very few nerves, your baby is not uncomfortable during the procedure, and can even breastfeed immediately after it is over. Moms usually notice an improvement in their baby’s breastfeeding beginning with the very first feeding after the treatment.
Infant frenectomy cost
Dr. Davoud will perform a thorough examination of your child before giving you a close cost estimate for the frenectomy procedure. If your child’s tongue or lip tie is considered medically necessary, then your insurance may cover a portion or all of the consultation and treatment costs.
Schedule a consultation with Dr. Davoud today
If you think your baby may have a tongue tie or other oral development issues that are causing problems with breastfeeding, eating solid foods, or their breathing or digestion, we urge you to contact the office of Dr. Ramsin Davoud to schedule a consultation. He is skilled at evaluating infants while keeping them comfortable, diagnosing conditions such as tongue ties, as well as treating them safely and effectively. He understands how important your child is to you and will take the time to talk with you one-on-one about any conditions your child has, the treatment options that are suitable for their unique needs, and any questions that you have. The end goal of all of the treatments that Dr. Davoud provides is not just to fix the problem, but to help the patient thrive.
Call the office, conveniently located in Turlock, CA, at (209) 666-8867
to schedule your child’s consultation today!