Are Tongue-Ties a Fad?
As someone who is passionate about helping new mothers, and their newborn babies achieve successful breastfeeding, I often get asked, “Is this whole tongue tie thing a fad?”
While it is true in recent years “tongue-ties” have become a trigger word in many mommy groups, short lingual frenula are nothing new. Frenulectomies date back to 18th century, where there are reports of midwives severing the tissue with a fingernail! But luckily we have become more refined in our approach. That being said, not every child that walks through our door has a tongue-tie. The issue lies in proper and complete diagnosis as well as treatment as a triad.
What do I mean by this? Well, quite simply, a tongue-tie or a lip tie cannot be diagnosed over Facebook, or in a photo. A true suck assessment must be performed. Have you ever heard the phrase, “ don’t judge a book by its cover?” Well, for all intents and purposes, the same applies to diagnosing a tongue-tie. There is no such thing as a “mild” tongue-tie, when it is restricting the proper movement and functionality of the tongue. And anyone who says a tongue-tie is mild, quite simply does not understand the mechanics of the tongue during swallowing. It’s equivalent to saying there is a mild tear in your ACL. A mild tear can be quite detrimental if it means the patient is in excruciating pain, or causes the knee to be unstable! A mother who is struggling with breastfeeding is not reaching out to our office to show off her blistered and bleeding nipples.
The trouble with categorizing tongue-ties as a fad is that it disqualifies a specific population who truly need help. I have met countless families who have been misinformed into thinking that their child will “grow out of “ their tongue tie, MYSELF INCLUDED!!!
Side bar: when I had my son, the pediatrician at the hospital tried to tell me he would grow out of his tie…Lucky for me, (and my breasts), I knew differently. But a lot of families don’t.
This largely turns into a population of children and teens that go on to exhibit a slew of different issues related to their tongue tie including dental malocclusion, upper airway obstruction/resistance leading to sleep apnea, speech problems, TMJ and muscle tension, problems with solid foods, and occasionally, a lip tie that interferes with proper hygiene, resulting in cavities.
Does this mean that every baby that walks through our door has a tongue-tie? Absolutely not. In many instances torticollis can be the underlying inhibitor. Or perhaps basic suck training and a great lactation consultant can assist in reorganizing a child’s suck and latch. This is why our treatment is always a triad approach. A tongue-tie should never be released without the support of an IBCLC and a body worker, (Cranial sacral therapist, chiropractor, etc). A baby must “re-learn” to swallow and reorganize the muscle memory. Suck training must be involved. A frenulectomy is not the whole solution, but rather a piece of the solution. For older children, I require the help and support of a myofunctional therapist prior to any frenulectomy release.
All in all, there are different approaches when it comes to addressing a tongue-tie. But it is both reckless and irresponsible to call it a fad, as in many instances it can truly manifest into problematic issues down the road.
To dive a little deeper, check out our website at https://thebrushstopdental.com/pediatric-dental-services-carlsbad-ca/specialized-care/lip-tie-and-tongue-tie/ Or call us at 760-635-5995.