Tongue and lip tie have become an epidemic, and are the source of many breastfeeding problems. In past years, ties were found in less than 4% of babies. We are currently seeing extensive ties in 70% of babies.
Many doctors, midwives and lactation consultants are only trained to look for an anterior tongue tie that creates a heart shaped tongue. This type of tie is very obvious. These providers fail to understand that tongue ties come in 4 types (illustrated below), and they are RARELY found without a significant lip tie. Tongue and lip ties are midline defects, they go hand in hand and often accompany other midline defects such as spinal and gut problems.
When a tongue and lip tie occur, they both must be properly revised in order to achieve successful breastfeeding, oral health and proper speech.
If a mother is having breastfeeding trouble and/or pain, the baby must be properly evaluated for this easily correctable problem. If all babies were properly diagnosed and treated early, our breastfeeding rates would skyrocket. Providers often fail to assess a baby's mouth when breastfeeding issues arise. They often try to correct the latch or put the mother on an herb or prescription to increase milk supply, and have her increase pumping sessions. While these interventions may be warranted in some cases, first making sure the baby is able to properly latch is a must. If the baby is tied, there is no intervention, other than revision, that will correct the problem.
I often hear that a baby has been put on reflux medication. This is a new trend over the past few years that I believe has followed the increase of tied babies. Babies with ties very often have reflux and will require medication, however the connection of the two is rarely made by a medical professional. The problem of course is that the medication is an unhealthy mask to the real issue, and left untreated babies will often end up on formula and long term reflux medication. The reflux medication will cause a whole host of new problems down the line, as will the untreated ties. I have seen many of these babies successfully come off of the reflux medication within weeks of a proper lip and tongue tie revision.
There are many symptoms of lip and tongue tie. If you or your baby/child has any of the following symptoms, you should investigate immediately.
The maternal experience of breastfeeding a tongue/lip-tied baby may include:
Children with a tongue tie have to contend with difficulties which may only be discovered as they grow older. These can include:
For lip ties, look for a band of tissue that connects the gums to the lip. The photos below depict ties of varying degrees, with the least severe on the left and most severe on the right. Though many complications can arise, the main ones that result from lip ties are:
Early intervention resolves all of these problems
Diagnosing tongue-ties can be a bit more tricky. Sometimes the tie is obvious, like when the membrane is visible or the tongue makes a cupped/heart shape when lifted (this happens because the center of the tongue is anchored by the tie, so the only parts free to move are the sides). Other times, like in the bottom right photo, the tie is hiding underneath the mouth floor.
Scissor Method – Scissors cannot penetrate as deeply as lasers and do not remove the extra tissue, but if travel is out of the question seek out a highly qualified professional in your area – usually pediatric dentist – to do the scissor method. Please contact me for a referral.
I can also suggest homeopathic remedies that help your baby with stress, pain and healing. Then follow through with the stretching exercises described in the post-op section of this article. Most likely you will not receive instructions to do this but it is absolutely critical to the success of the procedure.
Other needed Therapies – Cranio-sacral therapy and chiropractic care are both crucial treatments with tongue/lip tie revision. Please contact me for referrals. The baby should receive this bodywork while at the breast.