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Dr. Kristen Berning recently traveled to Portland, Oregon to see Dr. Bobby Ghaheri speak on the topic of tongue-ties and lip-ties. His presentation was cleverly titled, "Untying Ankyloglossia."
Ankyloglossia/ Tongue Tie
The definition of ankyloglossia is tongue-tie. A tongue-tie is when the string of tissue under the tongue (the frenum or frenulum) is too tight and causes restrictions with movement that affect feeding or other functions such as speech. This congenital condition affects about 5-10% of the population and limits the tongue from proper movements for feeding such as latching on the breast or bottle. A lip-tie is when a restrictive frenum under the upper lip limits the lip from proper flanging, and/or the tissue restriction adversely affects the anatomy of the gums, bone, and spacing of the front teeth.
Dr. Bobby Ghaheri is an otolaryngologist, also known as an ear, nose and throat doctor or ENT. He has been a leader in the field of tongue-tie surgery for the past several years. He is one of the only ENTs in the United States using an in-office laser for tongue-tie and lip-tie correction.
Dr. Berning has been studying Dr. Ghaheri's tongue-tie research, teachings, and writings for several years and was grateful to be able to spend an entire day learning in person from him.
Dr. Ghaheri's presentation covered the latest surgical techniques, aftercare techniques, and short-term and long-term benefits supporting tongue-tie correction. Releasing a tongue-tie can help babies latch better on a breast or bottle, and can help older children and adults with dental, speech, or feeding concerns. He presented many research studies supporting how tongue-tie correction improves the breastfeeding dyad relationship. In other words, both the baby and the mother experience benefits together when a problematic tongue-tie is released and feeding improves through a better latch.
Dr. Kristen Berning experienced difficulty herself when breastfeeding a couple of her own tongue-tied children, and is passionate about these interventions that can help other moms and babies. Dr. Berning has been performing tongue-tie laser surgeries for nearly 6 years.
Like many other areas of medicine, treating tongue-ties is often best with a team approach. The course was sold-out and attendees included dentists, pediatricians, family physicians, International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs), registered nurses, midwives, occupational therapists, physical therapists, chiropractors, osteopaths, speech language pathologists, bodyworkers, other medical support team members, and more.
Tongue-ties can present problems for babies and moms in various ways listed below.
- Poor quality latch, shallow latch
- Falls asleep prematurely while nursing
- Slides off nipple when nursing
- Colic symptoms
- Reflux and/or gas symptoms
- Gumming/ chewing the nipple
- Pacifier problems
- Poor weight gain
- Clicking noises while latching at the breast
- Coughing, choking while nursing
- Fussiness at breast
- Milk leaks out sides of mouth while nursing
- Nipple damage (creased, flattened, bruised, cracked, bleeding)
- Severe pain when infant latches
- Poor/ incomplete breast drainage
- Infected nipples
- Low milk supply
The impact of a tongue-tie can be significant. Releasing the tongue-tie can be beneficial for both immediate feeding improvements and in the long-term for function and facial growth benefits. Children and adults can also benefit from tongue-tie releases if they are experiencing difficulty with feeding, speech or other oral and dental concerns. As with many areas of dentistry and medicine, ongoing research and training is important for us to deliver the best care for our patients.
Dr. Kristen Berning provides support for breastfeeding moms dealing with lip and tongue ties. She uses a laser to perform lip and tongue-tie revision, including posterior tongue-ties and buccal ties. Her office is located at 4200 Asbury Road, Dubuque, IA 52002. Many moms and babies travel from Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin to her office for tongue tie assessments and treatment. To schedule an exam or ask questions about the lip and tongue-tie procedure with Dr. Kristen Berning please call us at 563-239-6683 or contact us online.