By Hallie Bulkin, MA, CCC-SLP, CMT®, COM
So you suspect your baby (your child, or yourself) has a tongue tie, when should you schedule the release?
You might be surprised that the first stop should not be to a release provider! Say what?!
Yep, you heard that right. While a release provider is an important member of the team, rushing into a release can lead to suboptimal outcomes.
When all the mommy groups and blogs suggest rushing into your release providers office as soon as you suspect a tie, why should you wait? What’s in it for you and what’s in it for your baby?
A lot, actually!
Tongue and lip tie release timing is critical.
The magic of a successful tongue and/or lip tie release, is in timing the release well. Timing is critical as other interventions may need to occur first and the body needs to be properly prepped for the surgical release of the tongue or lip tie(s).
Everyone moves at their own pace as well, so while one patient may be ready for release following a few sessions another may take several months and more sessions to be fully prepared. The same can be said for the healing process. We have to allow our body to heal while working to gain optimal function following the procedure.
Everyone would love a magic bullet to take away all of the symptoms that ties can cause. Most look to the release as that “magic bullet” that will solve all of their woes.
But, I’ll let you in on a little secret, there is no magic bullet!
Success comes from ensuring optimal timing of release by working with the appropriate professional before and after the release.
What’s at stake if we skip this step?
Poor outcomes such as continued difficulty with breast feeding, bottle feeding, reattachment, and symptoms related to the tie that remain beyond the release. In order to time the release well, we must consult with a tongue tie professional who is well versed in ties, oral motor therapy and/or myo, and has a network of professionals they can refer to if needed.
If it’s an infant or child up to age 4, we want to consult an SLP or OT trained in feeding therapy (if they have a myofunctional background and training in tethered oral tissues, it’s a plus!)
For children 4+ years and adults, a Myofunctional therapist is a great first step. This might be an SLP, OT, PT, RDH or DDS with the proper training to provide orofacial myofunctional assessment and therapy. These professionals will assess function of the muscles, recommend an appropriate treatment plan to prepare for a release, and make referrals to other professionals if necessary.
Preparation for a release takes time and we don’t have a crystal ball to tell us how long it may take. This depends on many factors, including…
- compensatory patterns that are present
- the current anatomy and function…and so much more!
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is, without preparation, we see suboptimal outcomes. A tongue tie release is a use it or lose it situation. If we release the tongue but it’s not prepared to move in all the new directions that it now has the ability to move, this alone can cause reattachment. Think about it…a newly freed tongue just laying on the floor of the mouth. That’s a perfect scenario for reattachment to occur (and we don’t want that). We also tend to see body tension and strain in people with oral ties. In order for the tongue to be able to move in all directions well, we must address that tension through body work. This is a critical step in preparing for a release.
Before we rush to release, let’s stop to address the big picture. Releasing tissue without the proper care is not ideal and can make things worse for you or your child. Our goal is to gain or restore function and make sure it’s optimal so you or your child can thrive. Let’s keep that in mind and collaborate. Collaboration brings the best outcomes. Afterall, isn’t that the goal? Best outcomes for you or your child?