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Tongue / Lip Ties + Reflux

Posted by Jesse Lillejord on

Talking all things tongue + lip + cheek ties!! 

While babies are growing + developing inside mama's belly, there is a strong band of tissue located in the center of the mouth that guides the development of the structures of the mouth. It is called a frenum [ frenulum ]. By the time we are born, this frenum [ frenulum ] is supposed to recede and become thin, but in about 4-10% of children, this doesn’t occur, leaving the tongue and/or lip connectedWhen a frenum [ frenulum ] is too short, thick or constricts movement, it is referred to as a "tie"Otherwise, it is a normal frenum [ frenulum ]


Infants with ties can have difficulty creating a proper latch while breastfeeding or bottle feeding. They also can present with increased reflux, gas + fussiness, as well as appear seemingly "uncomfortable" overall.  When a frenum [ frenulum ] is positioned in a way that interferes with the normal function, or constricts the movement of the tongue, lips, or cheeks, it can be corrected by a surgery called a frenectomy. 
Below we discuss why tongue + lip + cheek ties can contribute to reflux in littles! 
Tongue Tie

What are the 3 different types of ties? 

TONGUE TIE or "ankyloglossia" is caused by a lingual frenum [ frenulum ] - the tissue under the tongue - that is either too short or too thick. There are two types of tongue ties - anterior and posterior. For a newborn, a tongue tie can make breastfeeding difficult for the infant and painful for the mother because the lip’s or tongue’s limited movement prevents the infant from properly latching on.
LIP TIE or "maxillary labial frenula" is caused when the two separate facial bones of the skull fuse together and the tissue between doesn't dissolve fully.  Babies with lip ties often have difficulty flanging [ flaring out ] their lips properly to feed and don’t make a good seal at the breast [ or bottle ] when latching. This can cause them to take in excess air during breastfeeding which often makes these babies gassy and fussy. 
CHEEK TIE or "buccal tie" is an abnormally tight frenum [ frenulum ] in the cheeks. This tissue can interfere with normal function of the cheek to generate suction, in turn effecting the seal around the nipple or bottle.
Lip Tie 


Why do we care about tongue + lip + buccal ties? 

The connection between the oral tethers and the rest of the body are almost unbelievable. The small membrane on the bottom of your tongue actually connects all the way back + down to your big toe [ this connective tissue is pictured below ]. Because of this extensive fascial connection, babies with oral restrictions often present as fussy + tense + are visibly uncomfortable on their back.
In addition, the connection point [sphincter] between the stomach and the esophagus is located in the diaphragm [large breathing muscle under ribs]. Babes with tight diaphragms [possibly made worse by ties] have associated increased reflux because this sphincter is being strained causing the acid + milk from the belly to come back up into the throat! 

Oral + Body Connection


Why can ties contribute to reflux? 

When a babies latch is not optimal, meaning there is an inadequate seal, baby can swallow air when feeding. This excessive air swallowing is known as 'aerophagia' and can cause reflux symptoms in infants. It also contributes to increased gas because of the air bubbles in the belly! Short maxillary labial frenula (lip tie) and ankyloglossia (tongue tie) can contribute to aerophagia in infants. This is known officially as aerophagia induced reflux (AIR). 
  Below are some helpful tips to help loosen the up the diaphragm and improve reflux symptoms in your babe: 


So what can you do about it??? 

-See your pediatric chiropractor! 
- Schedule an appointment with a qualified lactation consultant to work on improving babes latch 
- Consult a pediatric dentist to assess the severity of oral restrictions (tongue + lip ties)  
Craniosacral therapy

Ties + pediatric chiropractic care:

Chiropractic care and craniosacral therapy (CST) cannot make tongue and lip ties disappear. Rather these techniques help support the body and reduce tension + stress in the infant. By reducing tension in the tissue connecting the mouth to the toes we optimize the success of the revision process. Getting the tethered oral tissue evaluated + revised by a pediatric dentist along with specialized chiropractic care could be life changing for mamas + babies dealing with restrictive ties. [We work with amazing pediatric dentists in the community!]. Typically, we like to see infants 3-4 times before their revision and at least once after the revision. This allows the body to get ready for the revision as well as aid in the healing process! 


Want to learn more about tongue + lip ties? Check out our previous blog post below: 
Tongue + Lip Tie Blog 
***Check out one of our recent podcast episodes discussing ties below:***
Tongue Tie + Lip Tie - Podcast 
Our Resources:
Baxter, R., Musso, M., Hughes, L., Lahey, L., Fabbie, P., Lovvorn, M., . . . Agarwal, R. (2018). Tongue-tied: How a tiny string under the tongue impacts nursing, feeding, speech, and more. Pelham, AL: Alabama Tongue-Tie Center.
Siegel, S. (2016). Aerophagia Induced Reflux in Breastfeeding Infants With Ankyloglossia and Shortened Maxillary Labial Frenula (Tongue and Lip Tie). Int J Clin Pediatr. 2016;5(1):6-8 
 *** As always don't hesitate to reach out with questions /// thoughts surrounding this topic! ***
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