At first it may seem strange to see a general practice dentist passionate about working with babies to release lip and tongue-ties. Let me explain to you why it’s not.
Since I began practicing dentistry, I have seen many orthodontic failures, where patients had orthodontics as adolescents but no longer have straight teeth. This didn’t sit right with me, so I began to investigate why. My search led me to understand the importance of the airway not only in my dental work, but in the overall health of every person.
I discovered that the biggest factor in airway development is the tongue. The tongue drives the growth of the mid-face (maxilla) and helps to ensure that we have enough space for all of our teeth, develop a large, healthy airway, establish proper TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) position and create proper facial aesthetics. Tongue-ties affect this process in different ways in different people, but development is arrested at some level.
At the beginning, tongue and lip-ties can cause significant problems for both mom and baby. The first problems may be pain during breastfeeding for the mother, slow or no infant weight gain (because of inadequate milk transfer), exceedingly long feeding sessions, frequent blocked ducts or mastitis. Ties can also lead to a decrease in milk supply and early termination of the breastfeeding relationship. I am a strong advocate for breastfeeding, and want to help mothers succeed in this important relationship as much as I am able. The benefits of breastfeeding are numerous and well documented. Even if early breastfeeding problems aren’t present, ties can continue to cause issues for your child into adulthood.
In my work as a dentist, my goal is to help eliminate existing problems and work to prevent future problems. In an ideal setting, your child should be able to grow up with a minimal need for doctor and dentist visits. Sadly, untreated tongue-ties could contribute to future problems, which is why it is so important to have a tie evaluated early. The following pages will help you educate yourself and understand how to make the best decision for your child, and your family.