Sunday, March 1, 2015

Tongue and Lip Ties and Their Effects

5 week old Lexi before (bottom) and after (top).
She is sleeping in both. You can see how tight her lips were before and how relaxed they were after.
3 year 5 month old Lily before (bottom) and after (top).
Again, she is sleeping in both and you can see how tight before and how relaxed after. 
 Both of their top lips seemed to pull inward before the revisions.

Both girls had their tongue and lip ties revised last Friday. I have been researching ties since Lily was born. I struggled a lot with nursing her at first. She always seemed to be hungry, she left me bloody and in pain, she didn't sleep much and I could never get a good deep latch with her. 2 lactation consultants and 2 pediatricians told me repeatedly that Lily did NOT have a tongue tie and only had a "little" lip tie which would not effect breastfeeding. (Let me just point out that you can't be "a little tied", you either are or you aren't.) FINALLY, two years later I joined a support group for Tongue and Lip ties and learned that in fact, she did have a tongue tie. Through this group of advocates, lactation consultants and providers, I learned that the majority of Pediatricians, Lactation Consultants, ENT's, Pediatric Dentists, etc have not been fully educated on ties. Most do not know that they can result in not only breastfeeding issues, but speech issues, food/texture issues, spacing issues causing the need for braces, rot and cavities, and even tmj, migraines and the like. Also, most don't realize that anterior ties have a posterior tie behind them so they don't always fully release. They also rarely diagnose posterior ties (like Lily's). I was amazed to learn that these pesky little things could cause so many issues for my kid. I was determined to do what was best for her. We found a pediatric dentist in the area, Dr. Marcus, who was trained by Dr. Kotlow and specializes in the release. We took Lily in for diagnoses and learned that she had a lip tie and a substantial posterior tongue tie. He left it up to us whether we wanted to revise it that day or wait. We decided to wait until she was a bit older so she could understand what was going on.

Soon after, I got pregnant with Lexi. Barry and I both agreed that we would have her checked out right away. When she was born, I could instantly tell she also was tied. Her lip tie was very restrictive and attached to the hard palate. Her tongue was "heart" shaped which indicated a tie. We went back to Dr. Marcus and she indeed was tied. We decided to go ahead and have him revise both Lily and Lexi with Laser. I was beyond scared for my girls... what if they didn't want to nurse anymore? what if they are in a lot of pain? what if it reattaches and we have to go through this AGAIN? I knew we needed to do what was best, but we did waffle back and forth whether to go through with it.

Lily's Revision:
Lily went first. She sat in the dentist chair like the ginormous kid that she is. I sat next to her, trying not to show my anxiety. We both wore protective glasses. Lily held both of my hands and I kept telling her that she was ok and he was almost finished. She fussed and cried a little (mostly from fear, the laser numbs as it cuts) but did surprisingly well! Dr. Marcus stopped and looked to see if the revision was complete, but it wasn't. This was probably the hardest part for both Lily and I. He started again and Lily started screaming. She started yelling NO NO STOP and screaming in between. I started crying at that point, even though it was only about ten seconds. Right after he was done, she sat in my lap for a minute or so then jumped up and started playing. It's like nothing even happened! We had a pain plan in place for aftercare, but we didn't end up needing it with Lily! She was/is a trooper :)

Now the most amazing part... Lily ate TWO full plates at a buffet plus two scoops of ice cream in no time at all! If you know Lily, she doesn't eat. She takes forever to eat even just a little bit and isn't interested in chewy or tough foods. Not anymore! Ever since the revision she has been eating like a horse. Turns out, she was much more restricted than we thought she was. Now that she can eat she does. I have also noticed that she has a better, deeper latch despite her nursing for 3 years 5 months with a shallow latch!

Lexi's Revision:
Lexi was next. Barry put her in her car seat and they set the car seat on the dentist chair. It held her still enough that they would be able to do the revision. Barry sat with her and I was across the room with Lily. It seemed like it was taking forever, even though both girls took less than a minute. She cried a lot during but was fine after. I tried to latch her on right after to calm her down and she wouldn't nurse. I was trying not to cry, this was my worst fear! I couldn't stop thinking "what if she refuses to nurse forever??" The drive home was long and terrible because I couldn't shake the feeling that we ruined my perfect little girl. When we got to the celebratory buffet, Lexi started screaming. Nothing would calm her down. Not babywearing, she wouldn't nurse, not the arnica or tylenol, nothing. Barry dropped Lexi and I off at home and Lily and him went back to eat. I was so upset.

Moments after we cuddled up on the couch, she stopped crying and latched on. She Nursed! and she nursed well!!! No loss of suction, no choking/gasping, no gulping, no pain, just a good nursing session. The most amazing part, she didn't spit up for hours! This is a huge feat with Lexi. She would eat 1.5 ounces then spew 1 whole ounce. So. Much. Laundry. Thank goodness this has changed. Don't get me wrong, she still spits up, but not nearly as much. We gave her arnica/tylenol around the clock for 3 days then she stopped needing it!

The revisions have changed the girls eating habits for the good. I would do it again despite the tears.
Note: Post revision we did stretched 3-4 times a day on lip and tongue. We also did bodywork before and after (CST, Chiropractor).

Symptoms of/issues caused by lip and tongue ties include:

•colic/excessive crying 


•gagging/spitting up


•nursing abnormally often

•seems unsatisfied after nursing

•falling asleep quickly while nursing

•refusal to take bottle or pacifier

•slow weight gain/weight loss


•shallow latch/poor latch

•"clicking" sound while eating (breast or bottle)

•heart shape of tongue tip or dent in middle of tongue

•pain for you during nursing

•breast feeding issues (not limited to thrush, clogged ducts, mastitis, bleeding or cracked nipples, vasospasms, tell-tale "lipstick shape" after nursing)

•over-supply/under/supply (from babe not emptying breast completely)

•sleep apnea

•teeth gapping

•premature tooth decay

*pain while brushing teeth

•speech issues (lisp, replacing letters with others, avoiding talking, behind in speech)

*impacted self-esteem

•food & texture aversions

*affected smile

•jaw issues

•grinding of jaw

•facial tension (which can lead to body tension, especially in neck, shoulders and back)




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