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Pediatric Tongue & Lip Ties: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Diagnosis & Treatment

As the country’s leading resource for the treatment of tongue and lip ties among infants, Agave Pediatrics organized a national conference to share their comprehensive knowledge on the importance of a multidisciplinary approach in diagnosing and treating this type of condition. The conference was held last April 9 in Phoenix, Arizona with speakers including some of the top doctors and dentists in the pediatric field such as Dr. Rajeev Agarwal, MD, Dr. Karen M. Wuertz, DDS, PA, Dr. Martin Kaplan, DMD, and more. Dr. Cara Riek discussed the role of an IBCLC, Ramya Kumar SLP shared her experience as a speech language pathologist and feeding therapist, and Paula Fabbe RDH talked about the role of myofunctional therapy in the management of disorders associated with tongue ties and sleep disorders. The objective was to propagate the importance of proper diagnosis and treatment of tongue and upper lip ties to help both mothers and babies during breastfeeding, speech issues, dentition related issues, and sleep apnea. Agave Pediatrics has long been an advocate of healthy breastfeeding and prevention of disorders associated with tongue ties and lip ties, and advancing the research on this clinical entity is a crucial step towards good health and nutrition for infants, children and even adults.

Highlights of the Event

During the conference, the speakers discussed the importance of breastfeeding to a child’s development and how tongue or lip ties can impede breastfeeding and cause extreme pain for mothers. The event also encourages pediatric doctors and practitioners to be observant on the breastfeeding patterns of most of their patients to immediately diagnose and correct this condition.

Below are some of the highlights of the event:

  • Defining tongue/ lip tie or ankyloglossia: The event started by giving a thorough explanation of the condition wherein a newborn’s tongue is abnormally bound to the floor of the mouth because of a too tight, too short or too thick lingual frenulum, which is the small band of tissue that connects the underside of the tongue.
  • Diagnosing ankyloglossia: There are many symptoms from both mothers and babies that can help diagnose tongue or lip ties. For babies, symptoms include clicking sounds on the breast, inability to latch, frequent unlatching, and more. Mothers, on the other hand, may experience severe pain when breastfeeding, bleeding in the nipples, as well as poor milk supply.
  • Frenectomy procedures: Dr. Agarwal has demonstrated two types of corrective procedures, which are lingual frenectomy and labial frenectomy. Both procedures are quick and simple with little to no pain or discomfort for the baby and result in substantial improvement in latching and breastfeeding immediately afterward.
  • It takes a village for a family to breastfeed: The speakers also stressed the importance of a team approach in diagnosing and treating infants with tongue or lip ties. Aside from the main doctor who will do the procedure, other professionals such as the nurse practitioner, tongue tie coordinator, lactation consultants, chiropractors, craniosacral therapists, and more play a crucial role in helping mothers and infants to healthy breastfeeding.
  • Association of ankyloglossia and orthodontic work. Dr. Kaplan shared a number of pictures, where labial and lingual frenectomy has prevented major orthodontic intervention.
  • Association of sleep related disorders, sleep apnea with tongue tie and upper lip tie. Case histories were discussed where sleep disorders were diagnosed, associated with tongue ties and labial ties, and how that impacted life stories.
  • Role of Myofunctional therapy in association with the surgery, to improve the patient outcomes was discussed.

Reception of Attendees

With over 150 attendees comprising of pediatricians, dentists, ENT, chiropractors, speech language pathologists, lactation consultants and occupation and physical therpists from all over the country including one from Dubai and another from Australia, the conference was well-received and considered a success. There were more than a quarter of attendees from out of state, with professionals flying in from South Carolina, Texas, Illinois, California, and Washington, to learn about the multidisciplinary approach to tongue ties and upper lip ties. With this wonderful turnout of events, Agave Pediatrics is hoping that more children around the country and the world will be able to have an enhanced and prolonged breastfeeding experience, improvement in speech, reduced need for braces and very importantly have reduction in the incidence of obstructive sleep apnea.