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dr. richard baxter

Alabama Tongue-Tie Centeralabama-tongue-tie-center-1Richard-Baxter-HLC-Circle

Dr-Richard-Baxter-Tongue-Tie

"As a parent, you don’t just want your children to survive. You want them to thrive. You want them to have every chance to be healthy and well. Tongue-ties very often cause problems. Treating them properly can make a big difference. It is amazing how treating a restriction changes a child’s life for the better."

- Richard Baxter, DMD, MS

 

writing the book on tongue-tie

Sharing experiences and insights on oral restrictions


Dr. Baxter is the founder of the Alabama Tongue-Tie Center and Tongue-Tied Academy, the online course educating healthcare professionals to identify and treat oral restrictions. He also created a LITE version for therapists.

His popular book based on his experience and insights on oral restrictions has become one of the leading published resources on the issue. Dr. Baxter’s Tongue-Tied: How a Tiny String Under the Tongue Impacts Nursing, Speech, Feeding, and More is a foundational resource for parents, patients and healthcare professionals.

 

"The book came about because so many moms were in our office wondering how we, as dentists and healthcare professionals, had never heard of tongue-ties before."

 

Tongue-Tied was edited and reviewed by over a dozen leading healthcare professionals and specialists including prominent pediatricians, dentists, and lactation consultants in the field.

 

a personal and family journey

Offering perspectives as a parent and a patient 


Dr. Baxter was finishing a pediatric dentistry residency when his twin girls were born in 2014. Like most dentists, he had received virtually no training about how to identify or treat an oral restriction. Difficulties with breastfeeding led the family to a lactation consultant, who helped them to identify a tongue-tie in both babies. They went to a pediatrician who clipped their tongue, but it didn’t help. Finally, they were able to have a proper release procedure with a dental laser and it made a noticeable difference.

“When our youngest daughter Molly was born, from her first cry we identified that she had an almost to-the-tip tongue-tie. This time, we had the information and knew what to do."

In 2016, Dr. Baxter had his own tongue-tie released. “I could feel a big difference. First with mobility. I suddenly felt so free. My neck felt so much better. And secondly with speech. I realized that my tongue could actually move as fast as my brain wanted it to."

After experiencing the results of a proper release in his own family and in his own body, he realized his calling and the great need to help other families like his own.

 

undeniable results

Highlighting the most rewarding part of the job


At the Alabama Tongue-Tie Center, Dr. Baxter andtongue-tie-release-results his team see primarily babies, toddlers, and school-age kids, as well as some adults. He performs the tongue-tie release procedure with a C02 LightScalpel laser. “We care for patients like they are our own children. We always strive for a full evaluation, and we don’t put children to sleep for the quick, 15-second procedure.”

As a dedicated professional, Dr. Baxter has released more than 4,000 tongue-ties and other oral restrictions.


“The best part of treating tongue-ties is figuring out the connections and seeing the results in the kids and also for the mothers.”

 

Over the years, Dr. Baxter and his colleagues have seen the positive effects of resolving an oral restriction early on in life.

“Parents and babies come back a week after their release procedure and the changes are almost unbelievable. The kids will say new words, eat, sleep, and chew better, and moms have much less nursing pain.”

 

five principles to follow for the best outcomes

Breaking down what proper treatment entails


Even though the release procedure is quick, there are certain components that must be in place in order to support the best possible outcomes. Dr. Baxter has identified five core principles for treating oral restrictions:

1. Full assessment, examination, and history
2. Proper treatment and release procedure
3. Quality after care including stretches
4. A team approach with qualified healthcare professionals
5. Follow-up to make sure everything is on track

“If you don’t do the stretches after a release, the tongue-tie has a tendency to grow back,” warns Dr. Baxter. He also highlights the importance of accessing various healthcare professionals who can help, depending on the patient’s needs, such as a myofunctional therapist, chiropractor, CST, speech therapist, and lactation consultant.

“If you have those principles right, almost always the child will see some benefit. If you are missing any of these components, then you shouldn’t expect to get as good of a result.”

 

symptoms and function are more important than appearance

Why tongue-tie is not always the clear culprit


A painful latch during breastfeeding is most often caused by a posterior tongue-tie that is not obvious because it is “hidden. If it’s to the tip, it’s clearly a tongue-tie and worth releasing. What’s hard are the ones that aren’t very obvious. Some tongue-ties look like ‘nothing,’ yet they almost always see resolution and improvement after a release. Sadly, the most painful nursing is often caused by the least visible restriction.”

why tongue-tie matters

Identifying the difference between compensation and resolution


One of the most common misconceptions is that a tongue-tie will resolve itself. Dr. Baxter maintains that compensation is very different from actually resolving the root cause of a symptom. Most babies can compensate for an oral restriction by switching from breastfeeding to bottle-feeding, gripe water, reflux medicine, and gas drops. They adapt and compensate. But there are costs to pay in the future.

He also says that many children will eventually figure out how to eat, swallow, and chew despite an oral restriction, but symptoms and problems will evolve or creep in as the child develops. A child whose airway is compromised will have poor sleep quality, so they won’t get the deep restorative sleep their developing brain needs. As teens or adults, they may experience headaches from a forward head posture and tension issues. “The symptoms may change but they don't typically go away.”

 

why there’s hope

What current trends can tell us about the future


Dr. Baxter’s hope for the future is that obvious Dr-Baxter-Tongue-Tietongue-ties will be identified in the hospital shortly after birth. Parents will be educated about the signs of tongue-tie and new moms would receive follow-up support with nursing. Increased breastfeeding will decrease other health issues such as airway problems, sleep apnea, and obesity.

Although there are challenges, Dr. Baxter believes that a positive shift in awareness of tongue-tie is already underway: “We’re starting to get traction. We’re getting referrals now from pediatricians who didn’t refer to us before. They can’t deny the changes they are seeing now.”

To encourage these positive changes Dr. Baxter urges mom to speak up and medical professionals to listen and take them seriously.

 

“Too often, a mom will go to multiple other healthcare providers and they will tell her ‘it’s all in your head.' Keep searching for the answers and listen to your mother’s instinct — if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Very often there is a reason for your child’s symptoms. Never give up until you find a qualified professional who will listen to you and take your concerns seriously.”

 

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