Hi I’m Kar Mun and I want to share my journey from a struggling mum trying to breastfeed my first child to a Paediatric Dentist offering a solution to tongue tie & lip tie. I find it rewarding to give Mothers another chance to feed their child when all else has failed.
I became a specialist Paediatric Dentist in 2006. In my 8 years of undergraduate and postgraduate training in Sydney, Hong Kong and Melbourne, I had never come across a lecture on tongue/lip ties and the possible implications in breastfeeding. I was surprised to realise that in Australia there is very limited knowledge regarding tongue tie.
My daughter was born in 2007 and it was quite obvious she had a tongue tie. We spent 5 nights in maternity hospital and breastfeeding could not be established before we were discharged. One of the midwife’s there mentioned that my baby might have a tongue tie which could affect breastfeeding. As a Paediatric Dentist I was lost by the lack of knowledge and as a Mother I was desperate to find a solution as breastfeeding my daughter was a priority for me.
We went home and no matter how hard I tried including working with private lactation consultants who came to my home, I could not breastfeed my daughter without pain. The latch was poor, she was unable to drain my breast, I was in a lot of breast pain, which then caused thrush and mastitis. She was very unsettled, gassy and not content at all. I was filled with guilt and felt incompetent as a mother. I did not imagine that breastfeeding would be one of the most difficult things I ever had to do. It was not through lack of trying, but even the paediatrician recommended that I formula feed my baby. None of the professionals we had seen (lactation consultants, maternal child health nurse, paediatricians, GPs) had ever discussed with me the possible link between tongue tie and breastfeeding challenges.
Very shortly after we ceased breastfeeding/ expressing breast milk and bottle feeding, we were blessed with the pregnancy of our second child. Carrying a lot of self doubt from my past experience, our son, who has no tongue tie, was a completely different breastfeeding story from day one. The difference was noticeable straightaway and I felt much happier with the experience. My regret was that I could never try again with my daughter.
Finding New Solutions for Breastfeeding Struggles
This personal journey of mine, drove me to explore tongue tie further in my professional life. I set about learning as much as I could, travelling overseas to study emerging research. I wondered how, as a paediatric dentist, who works in children’s mouths every day, I could make a difference to the families who are struggling with similar breastfeeding challenges. It was very humbling to realise, there are many families who have similar stories. Not every baby who has a tongue tie will have breastfeeding problems however, those who have problems and the parents agreed to have the baby’s tongue tie released, the majority of them (85%) experienced improvement and prolonged their breastfeeding relationships.
With such great results for so many families, I decided to offer tongue tie release treatment for families through my dental practices. I work in conjunction with some amazing lactation consultants on site who understand how beneficial this treatment is. The treatment itself is short and effective, less than five minutes. It heals quite fast with minimal discomfort.
I soon realised though that it’s not just babies and breastfeeding that can benefit from tongue tie release, but children of various age’s, whose tongue tie related problems are causing other issues, such as speech, swallowing, eating and oral function problems.
This service has certainly enriched my professional experience, and gives me great satisfaction to see mothers and their babies seeing significant improvements in their breastfeeding, and to see families overcoming other hurdles caused by tongue tie.