Introduction: When to Release Tongue Tie

As a functional dentist, who has worked with babies for over 7 years, I understand the concerns parents may have when it comes to their baby’s oral health. One issue that has gained attention in recent years is tongue tie, a condition where the frenulum, the band of tissue that connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth, is tight or restrictive. Tongue tie can affect a baby’s ability to breastfeed or bottle-feed properly, and can also have long-term impacts on oral health and speech development.

In this blog, I discuss the importance of optimal tongue tie release time and the role of manual therapy and intraoral exercises in the pre- and post-release care of tongue-tied babies. I will also explore how parents can approach these exercises as a form of oral function playtime, improving oral function and bonding with their baby. Additionally, we will highlight that not all babies with tongue tie require a release, as sometimes tension from position in the uterus or birthing can be the cause of oral issues.

Optimal Tongue Tie Release Time

The timing of oral tie release is crucial for ensuring the best outcomes for the baby. Many tongue tie release providers recommend that babies undergo manual therapy and intraoral exercises before the release. Manual therapy involves gentle manipulation of the soft tissues in and around the mouth and the whole body, to release tension and improve mobility. Intraoral exercises are specific exercises performed inside the baby’s mouth to help strengthen and improve the function of the oral muscles.

Manual Therapy and Intraoral Exercises

Manual therapy and intraoral exercises are crucial components of pre- and post-tongue tie release care, and should be performed by trained professionals, such as pediatric dentists, lactation consultants, speech therapists, or physical therapists. These therapies are designed to prepare the baby for the tongue tie release procedure and optimize its results by releasing tension in the muscles and fascia of the mouth and the whole body, improving oral function, and promoting proper alignment of the jaw and facial structures.

Intraoral exercises can also be a fun and engaging way for parents to bond with their baby while promoting healthy oral development. For instance, activities such as making rainbows on the palate with the baby’s tongue can help stretch and strengthen tongue muscles, while U-shaped movements under the tongue can improve tongue mobility and coordination. These exercises should be done regularly and consistently, following the guidance of a qualified professional.

The combination of manual therapy and intraoral exercises is essential to ensure that the baby becomes accustomed to having fingers in their mouth, and that their tongue is encouraged to touch the palate. Moreover, it helps to decrease overall fascia and muscle tension, which is crucial for the baby’s nervous system. This preparation ensures that the right amount of release is done, if needed, and contributes to optimal outcomes for the baby’s oral health and overall well-being. The significance of this comprehensive approach cannot be overstated.

Is Tongue Tie Release Necessary?

Importantly, not all babies with tongue tie require a release procedure. Sometimes, tension from the position in the uterus or birthing process can cause temporary oral issues that resolve on their own over time. In such cases, manual therapy and intraoral exercises may be sufficient to improve oral function. However, please note that if a tongue tie restriction is present, the restrictive membrane will not stretch out, I recommend it should be released.

Approaching Exercises as Oral Function Playtime

Parents are encouraged to approach intraoral exercises as a form of oral function playtime, rather than a chore or a burden. Making it a fun and engaging experience can help the baby to be more cooperative and enjoy the process. It can also help parents to bond with their baby and create positive associations with oral care. (This is far from the only example of using playtime as a helpful tool! It’s also often discussed in the context of infant eat/sleep balance.)

Incorporating intraoral exercises into daily routines can be a simple yet effective way to improve oral function and promote healthy oral development. Parents can work with their healthcare provider to learn the proper techniques and integrate these exercises into their baby’s routine. It’s important to remember that consistency is key, and results may take time. However, the long-term benefits of optimal tongue tie release time and regular intraoral exercises can greatly contribute to improved oral health and speech development for your baby.

In conclusion, as a functional dentist who has worked with babies for many years, I emphasize the importance of optimal oral tie release time and the role of manual therapy and intraoral exercises in pre- and post-release care. These therapies can help release tension, improve oral function, and promote healthy oral development. It’s crucial to approach these exercises as oral function playtime, making them fun and engaging for both parent and child. Notably, not all babies with tongue tie require a release procedure, and consulting with a qualified healthcare professional is essential. By incorporating intraoral exercises into your baby’s routine and following the guidance of a healthcare provider, you can support your baby’s oral health and overall well-being.

 

Author: Dr. Mandeep Johal

Dr. Mandeep Johal is the proud owner of the Family Dental Center and Tongue and Lip-Tie Centre, a thriving and innovative integrative office located in Guelph, Ontario. As the first tongue and lip-tie center in Canada, Dr. Johal is a true trailblazer in her field. Her passion for learning was inspired by her own experiences as a mother of two children and herself diagnosed with tongue ties. This realization sparked a new interest in the impact of tongue function on overall health, both in childhood development and adulthood.

With a wealth of knowledge and expertise in airway orthodontics, tongue ties (for infants, children, and adults), temporomandibular joints (TMJ), concussions, biological dentistry, and myofunctional therapy, Dr. Johal is a sought-after practitioner and speaker. She is committed to ongoing education and has dedicated countless hours to learning about airway orthodontics, tongue ties, sleep disordered breathing, nutrition, cranial sacral, body posture, speech-language pathology (SLP), myofunctional therapy, and laser surgery. She is certified in laser surgery by the American Board of Laser Surgery, and is an active member of the International Consortium of Oral Anklyofrenula Professionals and the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine.

As the President of the Toronto Chapter of the AAPMD Airway Colab, Dr. Johal is dedicated to collaborating with other medical professionals, including osteopaths, chiropractors, naturopaths, physiotherapists, nutritionists, ENTs, midwives, and SLPs. She firmly believes that successful treatment of airway/sleep disordered breathing and tongue ties requires a collaborative approach for long-lasting results.