Myths about Tongue Ties

These quote below are my collection of what Dentist, ENT’s, Oral Surgeons, Pediatricians, Midwives, Pediatric Nurses and even some Lactation Consultants are saying.

“I have studied Eastern Medicine and tongue ties do not even exist.” Said a pediatrician who had no interest in reading evidence based research…some even by American Academy of Pediatrics. 

“Your baby will out grow the tongue tie.”  We take the chance of not getting it addressed early on so that when the baby gets older the parents will have to pay  more for orthodontic or dentist work. The parents also take a chance that their infant will have issues with tight muscles in the mouth, causing long term feeding issues, sometimes issues with breathing, digestion, posture, speech and even their endocrine system may be effected.

“You might have a slight tongue tie but it really doesn’t interfere with anything.” When parents believe this statement, the mom takes a chance that her breast may end up not making enough milk and/or her nipples may be consistently sore with possible thrush or a bacterial infection. The mom can eventually lose her milk supply if she has a current large supply as over time when the tongue is not functioning to it’s capacity. She may need to start pumping and/or wean prematurely.  She will either think she is not meant to breastfeed, her baby didn’t like to breastfeed or that she just couldn’t do it.   

In regards to a lip tie: “Yea, that looks like a lip tie, but don’t worry, your baby will fall as a toddler and the upper lip tie will release.” I hear this alot! In fact, I have to admit I use to say it too! Why we would want to wait for this to happen is beyond me.  And it doesn’t make sense if the care plan is waiting for trauma to occur. Education, education and education.

“Even though the Oral Surgeon released the lip tie, there were three adults standing over the baby and we couldn’t see a tongue tie.”  This came from a mom who went to an oral surgeon who was not up on the latest tongue and lip restrictions. Research points out that if the infant has a lip restriction there is almost always a tongue restriction. If all was well with the mom’s breastfeeding experience after this procedure then I wouldn’t have too much to say. But after I assessed and charted on an obvious posterior tongue tie before the procedure, she continued to have nipple pain and low milk supply. This eventually led her to premature weaning of her baby.  The truth is, most healthcare providers including some IBCLC’s and most Pediatricians, ENT’s, Oral Surgeons and Pediatric Dentist do not have an idea of what a posterior tongue tie looks like and the relationship to a successful breastfeeding outcome or stress free bottle feeding.

“Tongue ties don’t interfere with breastfeeding, you just need more time to toughen up your nipples.”

“The frenulum will stretch so no need to cut it.”

“This is the latest trend.” This is the latest trend but it will not go away. It is like saying A.D.D. is a fad and for those parents who truly have an A.D.D. child it is insulting. As professionals working with sucking, eating and breathing issues, this “trend” is providing more insight and understanding for those babies who have trouble staying at the breast, eating, swallowing and breathing at the same time. It is my duty as a Board Certified Lactation Consultant to make sure my babies can eat well, comfortably and without any stress. Imagine what it feels for a  mom who is either drowning her baby in her over abundant milk supply, or has too little to nourish her little one. Sometimes, moms nipples stay sore for the duration of breastfeeding. Other times, the infant never learns to suck because their tongue and lips are not functioning. How stressful for everyone involved. If a simple procedure takes care of these issues 95% of the time with the proper treatment and follow up- why question the current fad?  It is unethical in my opinion to deny these poor infants and children a proper way to eat without stress. Or to have an answer to on going nipple pain. We need a functioning tongue and lip to process digestion and the mechanics of eating and swallowing. For everyone in the Health Care field taking care of infants and children, this “newest trend” needs to be understood because it is now saving breastfeeding relationships and lives.

“The dentists have to pay some how for their new laser.” This is unethical and a little FYI, the pediatric dentist I use has had their laser paid off along time ago before “this fad.”  And he does it because of how easy, fast and super fast healing the laser is and of course the future and present health benefits for his patients.

“The frenulum looks too thick so we are going to schedule your baby for “sedation.” AKA general anesthesia  This practice is still being used today for a simple procedure that a skilled ENT, Oral Surgeon or Pediatric Dentist can take care of in their office with a local and in some cases with sugar water.   I haven’t had one of my babies put under general in 6 years for this procedure.

I have been a pediatrician for over 20 years and I have never seen so many tongue ties. I don’t understand it.”  My response to this is, a pediatrician has as little as 8 hours of formal lactation training while an IBCLC has had years of clinical lactation hours and training with lactation specific issues pertaining to the emotional and physical aspects of the breastfeeding dyad. It is impossible for pediatricians to have the time to be trained and as knowledgeable about lactation unless they have gone on to become an IBCLC. With this particular pediatrician, she declined my offer for me to spend extra time out of my day to come in to her office and show her how I was trained to assess.

“If you work with a lactation consultant, don’t get caught up in the belief that your baby has a tongue tie.” Said the pediatric nurse telling a mom who was down a pound from birth weight at two weeks. I finally saw this baby at 6 weeks. The tongue could not lift or extend past the gum line at all.