Why We Treat Tongue and Lip Ties at Vondrak Dental

Dr. Rainbolt and her son Tommy


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 sonís tongue-tie revision (frenectomy), I began pursuing more in-depth education about the treatment of tongue and lip ties. I wanted to be able to give other moms 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.

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 Vondrak 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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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.

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How does tongue tie affect growth and development?

When the tongue muscle is tethered down, it cannot assume in the normal resting position in the palate. Therefore, the tongue is prevented from molding a broad, flat palate; giving way to formation of a high, narrow palate. A high, narrow palate can contribute to many problems such as teeth crowding, nasal obstruction, airway disorders, and TMJ disorders.


This photo shows the restriction in the movement of his tongue resulting in the high palate impeding nasal breathing. This photo is an "in action" shot. The child was asked to open as wide as he could and touch the tip of this tongue behind his 2 front teeth. As you can see, his tongue is tied down and he cannot reach the top of his mouth. This is a classic example of a tongue tie.
Photo of his upper lip tie. See how his tight frenulum is restricting his lip movement impacting his swallowing. The result before treatment: narrow high palate

**Please note: children and adults of all ages can be treated for tongue ties. In children, a high vaulted palate like this will improve once the tongue can resume a normal range of motion. Often times combination with dental facial orthopedic appliances can reverse all effects of the tongue tie. See tab for Dental Facial Orthopedic Appliances.

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