Refresh Wednesday: Adult Tongue Tie Revision

Hands down, the most viewed post I’ve ever written was 5 Changes After My Frenectomy. I also wrote an update after my 2nd revision. So, for this Refresh Wednesday, I am going to pull the two pieces together, along with a couple of previously unpublished pictures.

One thing I really want to emphasize is that I am hearing more and more from older medical professionals about how babies were treated for tongue ties within moments of being born. This was standard practice, people. Routine, unquestioned, and normal. 

Anyway. Check out the full story of my tongue tie release:

“5 Changes After My Frenectomy” Originally published November 25th, 2014

Well, last week I got really brave and took the plunge: I finally was able to find a dentist who was willing to take me on as a test case to have my tongue tie released. I’ve read only the tiniest of handful of accounts from adults who had revisions, so I wanted to share with you some things that I’ve noticed one week out. PLEASE NOTE: Since I was a test case, it turned out that I had a lot to release, so we know I need more revision. 30-something-year-old tongues turn out to be a little bit more apt to bleed. It was done bleeding within 5 minutes, but I’ll be going back for more revision once this heals.

First, a bit of background: I’ve been told I was a very colicky baby for the first 4 months of my life. My mother swears it only got better when I got put on some antibiotics, but I was also having weight-gain issues. I wasn’t really gaining weight at all. I looked like a tiny, translucent bird in all of my pictures. But God bless my mother, she didn’t give up on breastfeeding. She did the best she could.

I have a wire that has been holding my front two teeth together since I got my braces off as a teenager. At some point, I did otherwise break my lip tie, but the tissue between the front teeth is thick enough that there would be a gap there if left unwired. I haven’t gone back to look at pictures from childhood to see if I can detect a lip tie. And, as we often say, almost always is there a tongue tie when there is a lip tie. And my tongue (especially now that I’m 30-something) had a VERY thick frenulum.

Just one aside: I’ve been a little stunned to see the turn that the conversation has taken in recent months on the issue of tongue ties. Specifically, there have been some very vitriolic conversations online by lactation professionals that have taken on tones of blaming parents for MAKING tongue ties an issue. I’ve seen the phrase “parents want the easy fix” pop up over and over again. I’ve read as IBCLCs INSIST that the parents just didn’t try hard enough to work with a lactation consultant on positioning and latch. Unfortunately, some of these IBCLCs have built up a wide audience, and their views can be their views, but what I keep pointing out (and it keeps falling on deaf ears), is that parents don’t get to the tongue tie conclusion easily. Some may, if they are lucky enough to give birth in a hospital with an educated pediatrician who routinely revises tongue ties. Beyond that, by the time I see families join my group, they are at a point of crisis. Real, real crisis. Telling moms they need to “try harder” and see ANOTHER lactation consultant (when often they’ve seen 2-3, or when there literally isn’t one for miles and miles around) is mean at best and unethical at worst (if a care provider can’t provide appropriate care, they are under an ethical obligation to refer to a provider who can.) I was VERY tempted to screen shot some of the very negative posts that I was reading last week and every time they ranted about tongue ties, I would replace the mentions with the phrase “Artificial Baby Milk”; the results would be interesting. (As in: “Parents who are too lazy to work with a lactation consultant look at tongue ties Artificial Baby Milk as the easy fix.” See what I did there?)

Anyway.

Here are the 5 things I’ve noticed in the last 7 days after my release:

1) The tension headaches are largely gone- If you’ve seen my video on how everything in the head is connected, you’d know that the muscles around the skull can hold a lot of tension as a result of having a tongue tightly tethered to the bottom of the mouth. I did go in for some body work with my favorite chiro right after the revision to help release the tension, and it has largely stayed away (well, until yesterday, when I had a train wreck of a day, but I’m already feeling better.)

2) I don’t carry my tension in my shoulders day in and day out- I’ve had so many massages, so many adjustments through the years, and I’ve never had any luck eliminating the tension in my shoulders for more than an hour or two. Well, now I feel like I can. Muscle memory is strong, so I have to be very conscious of my shoulders, but it’s easy to get them to relax when I try.

3) My jaw doesn’t click- OK, so this did take a couple of adjustments to get addressed, but as of now, my jaw is, for the first time ever, click-free and EVEN. I have to imagine I had this same jaw issue when I was born–and I’m pretty sure, even with the perfect latch, my jaw movement would have made it difficult to transfer milk.

4) My tongue sits on the roof of my mouth- Again, I’m still retraining myself to do this, but I can actually keep my tongue where it belongs, whereas before my tongue rested on the back of my teeth and pushed outward on them, essentially ruining the thousands of dollars paid to correct my overbite.

5) My Eustachian tubes moved- Seriously. I felt them move upward over the weekend. Not only that, but I felt them clear out, like they could drain finally. Like EVERYTHING else, it wasn’t until things had changed that I could notice how much of an impact this all made on my body.

Other adults have reported changes in their gaits, posture, and even improved thyroid function.  Time will tell if I see some of those improvements, too. It would have been nice to have this fixed as a baby, but….we all do the best we can with what we have at the time.

tongue tie release result

“Adult Tongue Tie Release Redux” Originally published December 10th, 2014.

So, today I went back for a check in and follow up on my tongue tie revision. I’ve found it really interesting to go through this entire experience. It’s brought me worlds of understanding about what babies and kids are probably going through. I’ve also noticed additional physical changes since my last post. I’ve also had some thoughts about tongue ties that aren’t proven, but I think connect some dots about things we already knew about.

First of all, this is what my tongue looked like this morning:

photo of tongue tie

Notice something that we didn’t see before? There are three attachments that you didn’t see before. As my tongue healed, they became more and more noticeable. Also, starting at the end of last week (2 1/2 weeks after the initial revision), I started to feel the tension that I had before, but on the right side of my body. It’s also interesting to note that the attachment on the right side of my tongue was the least prominent of the 3. I had severe scalp pain on Sunday. too.

There are a few things I’ve observed that I really want parents AND providers to know about:

  • First of all, these additional attachments came forward on their own as my body resettled and all of my bones and muscles shifted post-revision. So if you see attachments after a revision is healed, do not assume the professional who did the revision didn’t do a complete job. Furthermore, professionals who do revisions SHOULD do additional revisions at no extra fee, or figure out a way to make such an arrangement work.
  • There was some tissue that did almost look like it reattached, but that tissue did not affect the function of my tongue.
  • As the new attachments came forward, especially the center attachment, stretching my tongue became painful. It was very clear that this was tissue that had never been stretched like that before.
  • Post-revision body work is essential. I’ve been going in for adjustments to my head and shoulders (knees and toes) right after the revisions and then even a couple of times in between the revisions. Don’t skip this!
  • The pain afterwards has been manageable. Eating hasn’t been too bad. However, if your baby was revised and you’re breastfeeding, keep your baby skin to skin a lot that first day and nurse a lot. Breastfeeding reduces pain.
  • In addition to the stretches, rinsing with salt water and applying coconut oil to the underside of my tongue has been really helpful in the healing process.

I’ll follow up in a couple of days with additional thoughts that I have as things heal from this last revision. In the meantime, I leave you with this thought:

Tongue ties have been revised for hundreds if not thousands of years. There is already some really interesting research that’s starting to point towards the short term and long term impact of revision (or not revising).  However…there are some assumptions that are being made that really need to stop. No, Cranial Sacral Therapy isn’t the only way to do bodywork prior to and after revision, just like not assuming ENTs or any other discipline know how to properly assess what we see. Also, I like being able to measure things just as much as the next person, but I’d strongly caution anyone who wants to ONLY revise according to very rigid standards. There can be a lot of different ways these ties can exist. As I keep saying over and over, providers need to listen to parents and be willing to learn from them and each other. I’ve learned SO MUCH just by talking to parents, kids, and other adults, and some of my biggest revelations have come from consulting with other specialties. I encourage others to do the same.

New Pictures!

final tongue tie

 

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

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