Pediatric Dentistry; TOTS – Tethered Oral Tissue Treatment

Understanding Tethered Oral Tissues

A physical condition that limits the use of the tongue is called a tongue-tie. Theis restriction often causes a range of issues and affects around 20% of the populations. A lip-tie, on the other hand, is a condition where the upper lip is restricted and cannot move normally. It can cause difficulty with nursing, make it harder to brush the top teeth and can also lead to a gap between the teeth.

The tongue and lip are made of up a very complex group of muscles and are important for all oral functions. For this reason, having a tongue or lip-tie can lead to nursing, feeding, dental, speech, sleep, or breathing problems.

Baby’s Symptoms

  • Short Shallow, ineffective latch
  • Milk leaks out the corners of the mouth
  • Sliding off nipple
  • Prolonged feedings
  • Unsatisfied nursing episodes
  • Falls asleep while nursing
  • Unable to hold pacifier
  • Poor weight gain
  • Chronic crying episodes
  • Bloating or distended stomach
  • Lip callus present
  • Symptoms of reflux
  • Chronic burping and/or gas
  • Makes clicking noises while eating
  • Gasps for air while eating

Mother’s Symptoms

  • Flattened, blistered, bruised, cut and/or bleeding nipples
  • Plugged ducts
  • Mastitis
  • Engorged or unemptied breasts
  • Breast swelling
  • Using nipple shield to breast feed

Results May Take Time

Just like any other muscle in the body, the tongue Is used to function in a certain way. When it’s restricted by a tongue-tie, the body adapts, and other muscles have to help compensate. When a tongue-tie is released, your child will have no muscle memory of how to use the tongue effectively without the restriction, so your child’s brain will need some time to learn the new skill.

While many mothers notice an immediate improvement in their infants’ ability to nurse, it is also completely normal for this to take time, as well. There may even be a little regression in sucking for a day or two as your child learns how to use an unrestricted tongue.

The roll of tethered oral tissues (TOTS) such as an infant’s tongue and upper lip attachment are often overlooked or dismissed as cause of infant distress or maternal discomfort during breastfeeding. Successful resolution of problems and understanding of these two structures depend on simple, easy and safe methods of diagnosis and treatment. Contact us today for a free consultation.