What’s a Lip/Tongue Tie? A Dentist’s Personal Story

Lip & Tongue tie in relation to breastfeeding

Last week we visited with Dr. Maggie Davis, a pediatric dentist in Palm Harbor. She has a fantastic practice tailored to the needs of families with infants and small children all the way through adolescence. We are happy to have her as a guest blogger providing this helpful information. – Christie & Amy

The topic of babies with tongue and lip tie is a subject that is very near and dear to my family.

I am a pediatric dentist in Palm Harbor, so I am very aware of the impacts tongue and lip ties can have on oral development. But more importantly, I have three little boys who call me MOMMY. I have experienced firsthand the joy and frustration associated with breastfeeding.

When my son Colton was born five years ago, I was an anxious new mommy and wanted to do everything ‘right’ for my son. I was a bit overwhelmed when he came four weeks early weighing in at only 5 lbs. and 3 ozs. To be honest, the doctors and nurses had me a little frightened to take him home. ‘Are you SURE you are ready to take him home today…you know some 36 weekers fail to suck properly and end up back in the hospital,’ one nurse told me. THE PRESSURE WAS ON!

So I took him home confident that I was a knowledgeable medical professional and I WOULD get Colton to latch successfully and get him chunked up quickly. To my frustration, I was in pain, Colton was barely latching and at our check-up with the pediatrician he now weighed 4 lbs. 11ozs. Fortunately, I drew upon my training in Pediatric Dentistry and assessed his frenums myself. I discussed this with the pediatrician who luckily was comfortable offering a referral and I found myself in the office of an ENT (ear nose and throat doctor) the next day. Once Colton’s tongue tie was released, I had more comfort and more successful nursing within days.

I am the type of clinician who loves to learn and educate others. After going through this experience myself, I decided to learn more about the topic by attending conferences and hearing from the national leaders on the subject, including Dr. Lawrence Kotlow. And after a year long journey of education and training, I began offering this service in my pediatric dental office. I was committed to helping other parents who were in the same position I was faced with.

The first step is understanding tongue and lip ties.

Tongue and lip ties can restrict a baby’s ability to move their lips and tongue to feed, especially if the baby is breastfed. Lip tie occurs when the frenums connecting to the upper lip or tongue are too short or too tight. The frenums that connect the upper and lower lips to the gums are called labial frenums. Frenums that connect the tongue to the floor of the mouth is called a lingual frenum. When they are tight or short, they can cause difficulty moving or protruding the lips or tongue.

Some symptoms of lip and tongue ties include, breastfeeding for abnormally long periods of time, popping or clicking noises while your infant breastfeeds, difficulty latching, nipples that are abnormally painful, blisters on babies upper lip, milk escaping out of the corner of babies mouth or babies tongue appearing abnormally short, notched or heart shaped.

Once a tongue or lip tie is properly diagnosed, I use a laser to perform frenectomies, which offers improved benefits over those that are performed with a scalpel or a pair of medical scissors. Laser frenectomies result in better precision, less bleeding and improved recovery times. The procedure itself usually takes only 30 seconds.

After the procedure, you and your baby can rest and recover in a private room until you feel comfortable enough to return home. I provide you with detailed aftercare instructions that will include certain lip and tongue stretches. Performing lip and/or tongue stretches after the frenectomy helps ensure proper healing and prevent reattachment of the frenum.

If you have any suspicion of a tongue or lip tie, we recommend you call our office for a private consultation at 727.786.7551. You can find an online checklist of baby/mother signs and symptoms that you can use to help determine if your child needs to see us at http://www.drmaggiedavis.com/services/tongue-lip-tie/.

Written by Maggie Davis, D.M.D.
Dr. Maggie Davis-Pediatric Dentist
Palm Harbor, FL

About Christie Collbran

Christie believes in helping women recognize their own inner wisdom, strength and power. Having served as President of the Tampa Bay Birth Network for six years and with ten years serving families as a birth doula, she has a reputation for leadership, dedication and compassion. A childbirth educator, certified lactation counselor as well as a certified doula, she makes a point of ensuring mothers and their partners understand all their birthing options and what to expect on their journey.> keep reading

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