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Craniofacial Therapy

What is it and how it can help your child in the treatment of tongue-tie

By now you would be aware that we strive to give our patients a holistic dentistry experience. Sometimes this means that we would be recommending our patients seek specialist practitioners outside the dental industry for particular ailments. Other times we will work with the non-dental specialist in providing whole body treatment for our patients. An example of when we would work with a non-dental specialist is in the treatment of a particularly troublesome tongue-tie in a breastfeeding infant. In this case, we may recommend craniofacial therapy. 

Craniofacial therapy is when a chiropractor or osteopathic practitioner is enlisted to ease the side-effects of a tongue-tie. These side-effects may include a baby’s tightness in the neck or jaw caused from a baby straining to feed because of a tongue-tie. By gentle massage-like manipulation of the baby’s body, by a skilled craniofacial therapy specialist, these tight muscles soon release and allow for easier movement of the head.

In some cases, a craniofacial therapy approach may be needed before the tongue-tie surgery (otherwise known as a frenectomy) can be carried out. This is because the baby’s jaw may be so tight that it causes a restriction of the mouth which will not allow easy access to the frenulum (the troublesome piece of skin causing the tie). With a couple of sessions of craniofacial therapy these muscles, and those causing the soft pallet to tighten, actually release and the baby is then able to open their mouth wide enough to allow access for the surgery. Having this treatment prior to a frenectomy also improves chances of a successful procedure.

If your baby has been living with a tongue-tie and not feeding well, they may have developed some habits which have caused ineffectual feeding. This can, at times be painful for mum if the baby is breastfed. We have heard reports that with a successful frenectomy, followed by craniofacial therapy, a baby is able to correct the poor feeding habits which allows for a much more relaxed and effective feeding routine. Oftentimes this therapy may only be needed to release the tight muscles in the neck – which were caused by the tongue-tie. This then allows your baby to turn their head in order to gain better access to the breast.

Despite the technical - almost scary - sound of the name, craniofacial therapy is quite unobtrusive. As stated above, it is just a gentle form of stretching and manipulation of the cranial muscles. The practitioner may also be required to provide gentle manipulation of the spine. It is recommended that only someone with specialist knowledge and practice conduct this form of therapy on infants.

For more information on craniofacial therapy or frenectomies please contact our office or make an appointment.

References:

Birth Bootcamp. (n.d.). Tongue-tie and breastfeeding. [online]

Brussel, C. (2001). Considering craniosacral therapy in difficult situations. [online]

Jones, M. (2015). The benefits of craniofacial therapy and craniosacral therapy in treating tongue-tie. [online]

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