One morning last week, we had the opportunity to go shadow Dr. Nick Prater. Dr. Prater is a Pediatric Dentist in the Kansas City area that specializes in lip and tongue tie revisions. He uses a laser that is able to "cut" the excess tissue quickly and in a minimally invasive way. Dr. Prater works a lot with infants and young children that are having issues nursing, taking a bottle, spitting up frequently, or speaking correctly.
A tongue tie is a condition where the tissue that anchors the tongue to the bottom of the mouth is over-attached. Early signs of a tongue tie are a child's inability to nurse successfully or the child is unable to stick their tongue out of the mouth.
A lip tie is a condition where the tissue that anchors the lip to the gum is over-attached. In severe cases, the lip can be seen anchored to the bottom of the gum line. When this occurs, the child is unable to flip their top lip while nursing, creating a poor latch. This can be painful for the mother and causes the baby to take in too much air while nursing. Also, a gap between the teeth can develop when the front teeth descend.
While we were observing Dr. Prater, we were able to sit-in on a revision for a one month old baby. The main issue was nipple soreness for the mother while nursing and spitting up for baby. He had a lot of clicking while nursing, which is usually a sign of a poor latch.
After a quick exam, it was found that the baby had a tongue tie, lip tie, and buccal ties (extra tissue attaching the cheeks to the gums). The baby was swaddled during the revision and wore the cutest little goggles to protect his eyes. Dr. Baker was able to hold the baby's head to keep him from wiggling to much. Dr. Prater used his laser, guided by a little green light, to make quick passes over the tissue to loosen it. It only took a few passes for the tissue to begin to separate. He started with the tongue, then the cheeks, and ended with the lip. The whole procedure lasted about 2-3 minutes. After the procedure, the baby and his mom were moved into another room where they can nurse and hang out until they are ready to leave. Dr. Prater performs two follow-up exams to check for potential tissue regrowth and healing. The parents were given exercises and stretches to perform to keep the tissue from reattaching.
Dr. Prater also recommends receiving Chiropractic Care and Craniosacral Therapy after the revision. This allows the baby to retrain the muscles that are used in the mouth for sucking. This in combination with the at-home exercises, sets the baby up for their best chance at complete resolution of symptoms.
We feel very fortunate that we got to sit in on such a life changing moment for this child and his parents.