Tongue and Lip Ties
Dr. Rainbolt's Story

As a health-centered dentist, I am always striving to treat the source of a problem, rather than just the symptoms. As a result of this pursuit, I became interested in the tongue's influence in development of airway, swallowing, speech and facial development. It wasn't until I experienced breastfeeding my tongue-tied son that I fully understood the impact that a tongue-tie can have on breastfeeding. After my son’s tongue-tie release (frenectomy), I began pursuing more in-depth education about the treatment of tongue and lip ties. I wanted to be able to help other moms have the opportunity that I had to breastfeed successfully. I have traveled across the country to learn from some of the most experienced doctors providing care for tongue and lip tied infants. I consider it an honor to use my specialized skills to care for mothers and babies in my community.

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What is a Tongue Tie?

The cord of tissue under the tongue that attaches the tongue to the floor of the mouth is known as the lingual frenum. A tongue tie (ankyloglossia) occurs when the lingual frenum is too tight and interferes with normal mobility and function of the tongue. If the tongue is prevented from normal function and movement, it has the potential to negatively affect every organ system in the body. Not all tongue ties involve the frenum going all the way to the tip of the tongue. Some tongue ties can be difficult for the untrained eye to see such as posterior or submucosal tongue ties. However, they can contribute to the same problems as the more noticeable anterior tongue ties. 

What is a Lip Tie?

The cord of tissue that attaches the lip to the gingiva is known as a labial frenum. A lip tie occurs when the labial frenum is too tight and interferes with normal mobility and function of the lip. A lip tie can infer with proper latching during breastfeeding, and it can also contribute to decay formation of the upper front teeth when it prohibits adequate oral hygiene and/or food pocketing. Additionally, a lip tie can cause a space (diastema) between the upper front teeth or prevent proper lip seal during nasal breathing.

How are Tongue and Lip Ties Treated at Wilson Dental?

For babies under the age of 12 months, a topical numbing cream is used to help decrease discomfort during the procedure. For children and adults over the age of 12 months, the topical numbing cream is used in addition to an injected local anesthetic to numb the areas to be treated.  A laser is used to release the restrictive tongue and/or lip tie. The use of the laser minimizes bleeding which allows excellent visualization of the area to be sure a full release is achieved.  For infants, we encourage breastfeeding, bottle-feeding and/or skin-to-skin contact to help soothe your infant following the procedure. We have a private room for you to comfort and feed your baby, and you are welcome to stay as long as necessary.

Note: Breastfeeding babies should first be evaluated by a lactation consultant (IBCLC) to identify anything that may be causing breastfeeding issues that are not related to tongue or lip ties. 

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Dr. Rainbolt is a member of the International Affiliation of Tongue Tied Professionals, and she has been recognized with certification from the Academy of Laser Dentistry. Dr. Rainbolt and the team of Wilson Dental understand the challenges families face in the early days after a birth. They also understand the extra challenge that a tongue and/or lip tie might pose for a breastfeeding mother. Our goal is to help you and your child restore your natural ability to breastfeed and set the stage for a lifetime of health.

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