Medical Team

Who Should Be On Your Baby’s Tongue-tie Team?

At times as a Mama, you feel something is not right. At times, we push down that feeling but it just keeps bubbling up to the surface again and again. We might mention it to our Mom, friend, and sister and they might dismiss us.  So we think, never mind. I am a new Mama; I do not know what I am talking about. Negative self-talk and doubt are the worst, for first-time Mamas, when deciding who should be on their baby’s tongue-tie team.

WRONG, listen to your Mama instinct. FIND a lactation consultant, your pediatrician, or any professional who will listen and BELIEVE you. They will help you find the answer or refer you to someone that can help.

Think about it this way. If you are having a skin problem, you go to your regular doctor.  They refer you to a dermatologist who specializes in just skin issues. They take extra training each year for one specific area. I want the same attention addressed to my baby’s tongue-tie. You need a pediatric dentist that specializes in tongue, lip, and buccal-ties. They have been trained on a CO2 laser and have performed the procedure many times.

You should never hear a doctor say, well I do not see anything but we can cut anyways. Side note that happened to me once, it was traumatizing. RUN as fast as you can out of the office and find someone else today! I say it never hurts to find a second opinion. What is the worst they can say? I agree with the first doctor.

The following professionals should be following your baby before and after the tongue, lip, and/or buccal-tie release:

Pediatric Dentist/ENT (Release Provider)

Pediatric dentists specialize in the care and treatment of the teeth and mouth of children. They are trained to provide preventive and restorative dental care to infants, children, and adolescents, including those with special needs. However, I caution you to find a pediatric dentist that is a release provider. This will be a professional that has extra training in tongue-tie release, using a CO2 laser, and can officially diagnose a tie.

The ideal situation would have your baby have pre- and post-release work done with a lactation consultant and speech therapist; of which I am both.  As well as a chiropractor to help with tightness. You will see a much better result when all of these professions are working together.

However, I understand that some families will travel hours to see a good release provider. Most do not have the time and/or money to make this trip multiple times. Many times they will have their baby diagnosed that day with a release at the same time. Make sure when you get home to see the other professionals in your area.

Lactation Consultant (CLC, IBCLC)

A Lactation Consultant is a healthcare professional who helps mothers learn how to breastfeed. They provide guidance and support to mothers who are breastfeeding. They can help assess any issues that may be preventing successful breastfeeding. An IBCLC can also provide resources and tools to help mothers better understand the process of breastfeeding and how to make it work for them. A Lactation Consultant can help mothers with milk supply, latching techniques, positioning, and pumping. They are also able to provide emotional support and guidance during the breastfeeding journey.

An IBCLC or CLC can not “diagnose” ties but they are a great resource that understands ties due to working with feeding and the mouth every day. They will be able to make a wonderful reference to a pediatric dentist.

When trying to figure out answers for our son’s tongue-tie. We were referred by our lactation consultant to a pediatric dentist in town. However, that is where our story stopped. We did not go see a speech therapist or a chiropractor. I started to see improvements but continued to see a lot of issues which continued to get worse once he started eating. His anterior tongue-tie was addressed but his posterior tongue-tie was not addressed.

Think your child may have a tongue-tie? Grab my freebie Do You Have Pain When Breastfeeding Your Baby? Where I share signs and symptoms of both Mama and Baby where your baby might have a tongue-tie.

Speech Therapist/Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy

A Speech Therapist can help from birth with speech and language development. They use a variety of activities and exercises to help the baby learn to communicate, eat, and swallow effectively. Speech Therapists also work with parents to help them understand their baby’s development. They provide tips and strategies before and after a tongue-tie release.

A speech therapist that specializes in orofacial myofunctional disorders (OMDs) in both children and adults will specifically look at dental dysfunctions, jaw sizes, and position problems, temporomandibular joint dysfunction, tongue thrusting, thumb sucking, prolonged bottle or pacifier use. These speech therapists work closely with airway-focused dentists, dental hygienists, speech therapists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and other licensed professionals in Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy.

When an older baby is struggling with solids, a speech therapist can come along to help with the feeding environment, routine, how food is presented, and how to speak about new foods. The speech therapist will look at body posture, strength, and overall tone to determine the readiness of eating solid foods. Speech therapists are more known for looking at the oral/mouth structure and function as well as swallowing for different food textures (puree, solid, mixed, drinks) types.

Chiropractor

A chiropractor is a healthcare professional who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal problems, with an emphasis on the spine. They use manual manipulation and other techniques to reduce pain, improve body function, and promote overall health.

Bodyworker

A bodyworker specializes in using techniques such as massage, stretching, and myofascial release to help people achieve balance and relaxation in their bodies. Bodyworkers help to reduce pain, improve range of motion and flexibility, and improve overall well-being. They may also use energy healing techniques such as Reiki and Acupressure to help balance the body’s energy. Bodyworkers are an important part of holistic health care and can be an excellent addition to any wellness routine.

Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists work with babies and their families to promote development and independence in all areas of life. They develop individualized treatment plans that focus on the baby’s strengths and needs to help them reach their fullest potential. This may include working on activities that promote sensory integration, fine and gross motor skills, feeding and eating skills, self-care skills, and play skills. Occupational therapists also work closely with the family to provide education and support so that they can be active participants in their baby’s development.

Physical Therapist

A physical therapist may work with a baby that has digestive issues in a variety of ways. Depending on the baby’s individual needs, the physical therapist may focus on the strength and flexibility of the baby’s abdominal muscles, help the baby learn to coordinate the muscles involved in swallowing, work on positioning and postural control to improve digestion, or help the baby and their family develop an appropriate exercise program. Additionally, a physical therapist may provide education on proper nutrition and positioning while feeding to help improve the baby’s digestive health.

From this list you will not need to work with each of them. All of them overlap in skills such as a bodyworker and a Chiropractor are very similar but also have more specific specialties such as Reiki and Acupressure. If your child is having trouble eating only on one side and is very tight, a physical therapist that specializes in Torticollis “a tight neck at an odd position” would be wonderful. However, that physical therapist could be over 2 hours away and a wonderful Chiropractor that specializes in babies is 5 minutes away. You need to do what is best for your family and what meets your baby’s needs. Mama, it is always ok to question each provider and not feel bad to find a second opinion.

Final Thoughts…

No medical provider should ever diagnose from pictures on the internet. I see this all the time on FB with parents that say here is a picture, “What do you think?” The release provider needs to lift the tongue and pull it back slightly to confirm a tongue-tie as well as look at how the tongue functions. Plus, a buccal-tie will never be caught through pictures. I say when in doubt, have it checked out.

When we all work together, we help with a better breastfeeding experience, decreased tightness, less risk of reattachment, and setting your baby up for a better future of eating and fewer speech issues.

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