The effects of tongue and lip-ties beyond breastfeeding: a mom’s perspective
Dr. Peterson and his wife, Rachael, have had two children with tongue and lip- ties. Read how tongue and lip-ties have affected their daughter Audrey’s speech, from Rachael’s perspective!
One of the most common things I hear from people when discussing tongue and lip-ties is, “My child has/had no problems breastfeeding or taking a bottle, therefore I don’t see a need to have their tongue and/or lip-tie fixed.” Or, “My child didn’t have any problems related to their tongue and/or lip-tie when they were younger, so I don’t foresee them having any issues as they become older.” Or, “My child will probably just fall and rip their lip-tie at some point during childhood, so there is no need to get it taken care of professionally.”
Unfortunately, our society lacks education regarding the many effects an untreated tongue or lip-tie can have throughout a person’s entire life. The truth is, tongue and/or lip-tied babies who did not receive proper intervention can grow up to experience issues with tonsils and adenoids, sleep and airway issues, dental issues, depression, anxiety, ADD, ADHD, bedwetting, irritable bowel syndrome, and headaches. In his book “Tongue-Tied,” one of the lead tongue and lip-tie researchers and dentists in the country, Dr. Richard Baxter, sums up the vast array of tongue and lip-tie effects perfectly: “A tongue-tie can be the hidden reason behind nursing difficulties in babies, feeding problems in toddlers, speech issues in children, and even migraines or neck pain in adults.”
In a previous blog post, I discussed how my breastfeeding journey was affected by both of my children’s tongue and lip-ties (you can read that blog post here), but today I’d like to talk about how our now 3 year-old daughter, Audrey, has been affected by her ties since having her tongue-tie released when she was 8 weeks old, and her lip-tie released when she was 3 ½ years old.
The provider who released Audrey’s tongue-tie when she was 8 weeks old did not feel her lip-tie needed to be released. At the time, Chris and I were not really educated on ties, and therefore agreed to only have her tongue-tie released. Audrey did really well post-revision, and was able to breastfeed successfully for 13 months. After Audrey’s 2nd birthday, we started to notice that her speech was difficult to understand. We knew she would be starting 3K that following fall, and we were concerned that her teacher and peers may have trouble understanding what she was saying. Not wanting her to struggle with communication in any way, we sought an evaluation from a speech therapist, who diagnosed her with mild childhood apraxia of speech (which means difficulty with motor coordination of speech), a common diagnosis among kids who have a history of tongue and lip-ties. Audrey began weekly speech therapy when she was 2 ½ years old and continued that therapy for about 10 months (I cannot say enough wonderful things about Audrey’s speech therapist, and about the speech therapy field in general. These educated professionals are extremely valuable to the multidisciplinary healthcare team, and can offer wonderful, beneficial services to children). After she finished her therapy, her speech therapist strongly recommended getting her lip-tie released because it was still prohibiting her from making certain sounds and forming certain words. A couple weeks ago, at age 3 ½, Chris released Audrey’s lip-tie using the CO2 Solea laser. Chris used a topical anesthetic on her lip and released her lip-tie in about 10 seconds, and Audrey did GREAT! Prior to the appointment, we prepared her by letting her know it might hurt a bit, and we talked to her about how important it was to sit still while Daddy fixed her lip. There were no tears, no trauma, no bleeding, and she was all smiles directly after the procedure (see the picture below)! One of the amazing things about the Solea laser is that it is quick, efficient, and the rate of infection and bleeding is extremely low due to the fact that it’s a CO2 laser. For the first few days following the procedure, we asked her consistently if her lip hurt, to which she always responded “no.” She never ended up needing Tylenol or any other pain medication.
We are so thankful to now have the resources and education to help us understand the long-term effects that ties can have on our children, and we continue to be confident that releasing our children’s tongue and lip-ties will offer them success in many different ways in their futures. Due to the lack of education on tongue and lip-ties in our community (and our country, for that matter), I think it’s important to share our story so that other parents can better understand that tongue and lip-ties go beyond affecting infants and breastfeeding and/or bottle feeding. Our goal is to promote early intervention when it comes to ties, in an effort to ensure that all children can have the best possible outcomes and success throughout their entire lives! Our mission to create awareness of what a tongue and lip-tie is, how to recognize symptoms, and how to obtain the best treatment goes beyond breastfeeding and intervention in infants: tongue and lip-tie releases can benefit ALL ages!
If you’d like to learn more about tongue and lip-ties, check out Dr. Richard Baxter’s book, “Tongue-Tied,” and as always, Chris and I are more than willing to answer any questions you may have!