This page provides a broad range of information about tongue and lip ties and their treatment at Enhance Tongue Tie Clinic. The information contained here forms a critical part of the pre-reading for parents bringing their infant or toddler to Enhance for treatment of oral restrictions. It is vital that you read all of the information contained here prior to your appointment so that your valuable appointment time can be dedicated to any specific questions you have.
You may be surprised to learn that many of the challenges new mothers face with breastfeeding can be related to tongue or lip tie. The good news? It is a condition that can be easily treated with a simple, soft-tissue laser procedure.
Known professionally as ankyloglossia, tongue tie is a congenital condition in which the lingual (tongue) or labial (lip) frenum (sometimes called frenulum) is too tight, causing restrictions in movement that can cause significant difficulty with breastfeeding initially. Left untreated, there are other reported implications such as speech, dental, swallowing and digestive issues.
Common symptoms of a restrictive tongue/lip include poor ability to latch or inability to stay latched, sliding off the nipple, falling asleep at the breast, regular clicking during a feed, poor weight gain, maternal nipple pain or damage, increased maternal nipple or breast infection, compromised maternal milk supply, dribbling milk at the breast/ bottle and even digestive issues such as increased gassiness or reflux due to additional air being swallowed and poor control of the milk during swallowing.
Tongue or lip ties present in many different shapes and forms. Often health care providers only look for very prominent, classic tongue ties that often create a heart shaped tongue. However, tongue ties can be deceptively hidden in the base (back) area under the tongue and cannot be easily seen and diagnosed. Critical for proper identification are not only a visual examination but a thorough investigation of the functional challenges as well as a manual examination of the mouth.
When the diagnosis is made after full investigation and the surgery is done correctly (where there is thorough removal of the restrictive attachment) the potential complications a tongue or lip tie makes to challenges with feeding can be eliminated. Laser surgery allows a layer by layer, thorough removal of the attachment of lip and/or tongue tie. It is a relatively quick and straightforward process, not requiring general anaesthetic, an operating room, sutures or oral medications. It can be completed in the dental office within a few minutes.
Lasers are an excellent alternative to scissors or a scalpel as a means to incise soft tissue. In laser terms the tissue is “ablated”. Light energy is used to incise tissue rather than cutting which occurs with scissors or scalpels. The use of lasers in surgery has a distinct advantage over other methods for a number of reasons: it reduces the collateral damage as it is more precise and removes skin layer by layer, it is bactericidal (kills bacteria as it ablates), reduces oedema, swelling and inflammation and therefore allows for better healing through the concept of photobiomodulation.
Dentists using lasers need to be properly trained in laser physics and laser safety. They are required to complete a suitable course on laser oral surgery. All methods of surgery require a good knowledge of the purpose of the surgery as well as the necessary post-operative care.
Treating the breastfeeding infant is not merely a quick “snip”. It involves informed consent by the parents and a thorough clinical examination by an expert in the oral environment.
Dr Jones has been treating tongue tie in patients of all ages using laser surgery for more than two decades and has treated well over 10,000 patients to date. Dr Jones is a co-founder of the International Consortium of Ankylofrenula Professionals (ICAP) – an international, multidisciplinary association for professionals treating oral restrictions and their related problems. She is widely regarded as one of Australia’s leading laser surgeons in the treatment of oral restrictions in patients of all ages, but especially for her work with infant and toddler patients. As part of her dedication to patients, Dr Jones qualified as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). She welcomes patients from local, regional, interstate and overseas areas. If required, accommodation is available for families at nearby apartment suites.
If you are concerned, you, or a family member of any age may have a tongue-tie and you have observed the symptoms noted above, please call us on 07 3217 6688 to arrange for a consultation with Dr Jones.