“An individual can find truth by using the powers of observation and reason instead of blindly following tradition.”
I loved that quote Dr. Kotlow gave as a summary of the seminar!
This weekend I had the privilege of attending Dr. Kotlow’s seminar in DFW. Dr. Kotlow is a pediatric dentist practicing in Albany, NY. Drs. Haggerton (incredible chiropractors+ in Hurst, TX – I’m considered asking them to clone themselves) brought him into speak after their prayers had been answered for their baby girl’s nursing difficulties. Her blog post about her journey is here. There’s no point in reinventing the wheel and rewriting what she blogged about. Dr. Cindy has really good information on her blog posts about the details of tongue and lip ties. Instead I’m going to share my revelation as it pertains to me and my children.
Aurelia is 5 years old and has shown some decay on her teeth. The dentist she saw commented on her tight frenum under her top lip. An example of what that looks is here. The dentist also commented on how weak her two front teeth looked and one showed decay. Aurelia has a slight lisp when she talks. At first I thought it was developmental and it would correct itself. She’s 5 and it hasn’t. I have the same slight lisp but I always contributed mine to thumbsucking up until the age of 5 or 6. Aurelia is not a thumbsucker. Aurelia also was VERY difficult to get to sleep and stay asleep when she was a baby. She always seemed like she was getting air since all the symptoms pointed to colic/relux. However all the books said breastfed babies don’t get air because of the tight seal. I was at a loss. We got through it all yet I wonder if this had been diagnosed earlier what a difference it would have made.
Lucia is 3 and has had front teeth decay since her teeth have come in despite diet and oral hygiene. Lucia was also close to being diagnosed as Failure To Thrive by her pediatrician. She wasn’t gaining weight despite the amounts of breastmilk she took. It corrected itself around a year when she was eating solids more consistently. Lucia has a similar upper lip tie. I am unsure of any other ties. I’d be curious to get all possible ties checked on her as well as the other children.
Keira is 1 and has made “clicking” noises since day 1 with nursing. It doesn’t appear that she is taking in the entire nipple when she feeds. She isn’t suffering from FTT like Lucia and she is still very young however I’ve noticed a little notch missing from one of her front teeth that could be a sign of possible decay. Also all three of my girls have always had milk residue left on their tongue which is a sign that that milk isn’t going where it is supposed to go.
Me: I’ve had my fair share of dental problems. I had braces to correct misalignments and a gap in the two front teeth. I also have a slight lisp. I have always been considered a messy eater. I go through many napkins during meals. Dentists have commented on some receeding gums and I’ve noticed it as well. Also, I’ve suffered from the clamped nipple effect and mastitis.
Dr. Kotlow uses lasers for releasing these ties in children. Lasers are quick, easier, faster healing, safer, and less traumatic to the area. He kept repeating “it’s a quality of life issue.” That resonated with me. I’ve had my fair share of dental issues to know that covering one’s mouth when one smiles or laughs and not smiling in pictures to avoid showing one’s teeth takes a huge hit on the self esteem. I avoided showing my teeth at all costs even to the point where I’d avoid looking people in the eyes. This affected me on a level so deep I still struggle with self-esteem.
In 2000, The Surgeon General gave this statement:
“Serious oral disorders may undermine self-image and self-esteem, discourage normal social interaction….”
I am proof that this is absolutely true. I knew from a young age that my teeth were different from everyone else’s. It took until I was in my 20′s to begin to even talk about it to people without feeling ashamed and embarrassed. Now that I am 31 I am able to accept it on most days.
Dr. Kotlow addressed the psychological aspect of tongue and lip ties as well as other potential problems. I enjoyed this slide from Dr. Kotlow’s KEYNOTE presentation (he stressed that Powerpoint is crap and his love for Macs – I like him already!)
Why We Need to Treat Abnormal Ties
Problems that may evolve as newborn infants grow older:
- Nutritional problems
- Colic or excessive gas
- GI problems: reflux
- Sleep apnea
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Speech problems
- Jaw growth and development
- Psychological problems
The seminar was phenomenal. I am still absorbing and processing all the information we were given in those 3 short hours. We were shown many before and after pictures and even video. There was even a sonogram video of breast feeding before and after the surgery and you could actually watch the milk squirt out of the breast down the throat and the tongue moving in a rhythmic pattern versus before the surgery the flow was not consistent and the tongue movement was arrhythmic.
The most humbling part of this seminar: This is where I admit a huge fault. During the seminar I found that a weight was lifted for me. It was the weight of judgment I didn’t realize was so deep-seeded. I was able to let go of judgment of women who say they can’t breastfeed. There is a learning curve for the woman when it comes to breastfeeding. Yes it can be difficult. There are many challenges and mountains to climb when it comes to nursing our babies. I know, I’ve been there. I think that is where the judgment comes in. I know the struggles I went through to breastfeed and since I ended up doing it it seemed easy to judge those who gave up. Afterall, humans are designed to breastfeed. Breastfeeding is best. Every health organization says so. Sometimes, for various reasons people stop. For all the women out there who have tried their darndest, hired lactation consultants, cried over it not working, baby not latching, baby not feeling satisfied, baby having colic, fear of baby not gaining weight fast enough for the doctors, is a poor sleeper, mom developing mastitis and/or baby developing thrush, I realize now that it is not your fault. The baby is unable to work his/her tongue and lips properly because of a tie. Bottle feeding will not cure it either. Getting it released properly will.
There were a couple dentists at the seminar to hear Dr. Kotlow speak. In the near future there will be more dentists able to release ties with lasers and these techniques. Proper diagnosis is the key. If a dentists or other health professional doesn’t know what they are looking for of course they won’t see it. If they suggest waiting until the child is older then there is a huge window of time that will pass where the problem could have been taken care of to avoid other dental, oral, and health issues. Early treatment is also less expensive and invasive than waiting until the child needs braces, has gum disease problems, is on various medications, and test after to test to figure out what is wrong when a simple procedure of laser surgery to correct a tie would suffice.
The problems we have are not as severe as some of the cases I saw and heard at the seminar. After all, I was able to breast feed all of my children. I feel that now I have this information I cannot ignore than there is a problem. If I can avoid my children having to go through their formative years with many dental problems to the point where it affects their entire self esteem and social interaction as well as physical development then I will do anything I can to give this gift to them.
Dr. Kotlow’s website: www. kidsteeth.com