I am not a doctor, dentist, speech pathologist, or lactation consultant. I’m a mom who has worked with all of these professionals with varying degrees of success. They have different levels of training and familiarity with tongue and lip ties and it is not consistent within their fields. It can be very difficult to find well trained and up to date professionals to help when you have a child with ties that need proper assessment, revision, and aftercare. There are some links at the bottom to help you self educate and get the best care you can if you’re in this situation. This post is based on my experiences, things I have read, and observations from interacting with other parents of children with ties.
Despite what some professionals will tell you, even minor looking ties can cause major issues with breastfeeding, bottle feeding, self soothing, eating, speech, and gastrointestinal and dental health. There are many factors involved in each individual case including the child’s age, muscle tone, weight, and overall health. There are also variations in tongue size, tongue strength, tie depth and placement. Add in breastfeeding and you have variations in milk supply and ejection reflex, nipple size and shape, and mom’s pain tolerance.
If you suspect a tongue tie is causing you and your baby any issues, do not let professionals tell you it isn’t the cause. Seek out more opinions until you get the help your child needs. Oftentimes, doctors or dentists will say revisions aren’t necessary until the child is older, especially if breastfeeding is not a factor, but by then they will have developed muscle patterns and possible dental issues that can be difficult or painful to correct. There are long term effects from tongue ties including chronic neck pain and migraines, crooked teeth, and speech issues.
Many ENTs and dentists will clip tongue ties and some will cauterize them. Some only believe anterior tongue ties are an issue and do not treat posterior tongue ties, which they call minor. There are also dentists trained in laser revisions, which cauterize as they go. These procedures should not require anesthesia for babies. They are not fun but are over quickly and can have a tremendous impact. It’s a difficult decision to make as a parent and is made even harder by some doctors and dentists not acknowledging the possible issues caused by them and insurances sometimes seeing the procedure as cosmetic/optional.
Upper lip ties have so many variations including depth of the attachment, thickness of the tie, and length of the tie. Many dentists will say they don’t need to be revised at all or until the child is 3 or 4. They also say they will stretch or break over time. They do not really stretch but some do break from falls as toddlers or later. Mine partially broke at around 12 while playing, which then allowed the gap between my front teeth to close and my canines to line up correctly.
Lip ties can cause gas and latch issues for babies. It can keep them from holding a pacifier or bottle in their mouth. These concerns can often disappear completely after proper revision. I’ve had many professionals tell me they are not important to revise. I learned to silently disagree and move on.
Here is a before and after laser revision comparison of my son’s upper lip tie at 12 weeks old. On the way home, he held a pacifier in his mouth for the first time and fell asleep. His gas disappeared immediately and his upper lip was eventually able to make a nice seal on it’s own without my help.
I will do my best to collect links on ties and put them here. If you have more helpful links, please let me know!
Facebook Page and Group
This is the page for the Tongue Tie Babies Support Group. It was an invaluable resource for me in the early months. There are professionals in the group as well as parents who have been there done that. You are able to post pictures for some peer evaluation and there is an approved providers list in the docs. I’m sure their resources and links will surpass what I can put here!
A Step-by-step Guide to Diagnosing Tongue/Lip Ties
Here’s a great article to read if you are thinking ties are an issue for you or someone you know.
Is My Baby Tongue Tied?
This link was my ah-ha! moment in figuring out my son’s problems. Catherine Watson Genna is an IBCLC and there is a lot of good breastfeeding help on her site.
KellyMom Resource List
Ah, KellyMom, how we love you! This site is put together by a wonderful IBCLC. Poke around for my breastfeeding and tie information. She also has a Facebook page and group.
This is some advanced reading on the connection between the MTHFR gene, folic acid, and ties. I haven’t delved into it yet.