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Lip and Tongue-Tie Release Provider Journey: The Long Story of My Background

Once I purchased the Light Scalpel Laser and began advertising to the "Tongue-Tie Community" that I was offering this procedure, I was met with skepticism about my background and qualifications. Some support providers were quick to discredit my experience in the space and I wanted to have a go-to blog for patients and parent/guardians who want to know specifically where I have obtained my qualifications to perform the frenectomy. One of points of contention was that I am performing releases without support providers involved. This is categorically untrue and undermines everything I was taught in the E3 model of care in the TOTS training course. We do not perform releases on babies without support providers (OT, PT, DC, IBCLC, SLP, etc).

My second associate dentist job out of dental school was with a group practice that was starting a new location in Cincinnati. The group was passionate about providing care to all. This included patients with state/medicaid plans and employer plans. If you know anything about medicaid, not many dentists accept that plan. We were BUSY to say the least. We were a dual general/pediatric dental practice, so I worked alongside a pediatric dentist. We had a diode laser that became my first experience in laser dentistry, back in 2016. The group was always providing CE opportunities and encouraging providers to purse whatever courses interested them. After taking a course on diode lasers, I began performing frenectomies on our patients. A diode laser is standard equipment and being an associate dentist, the advertising of services, website, and practice was done by the marketing department.

Throughout my time in practice I performed frenectomies on my patients, including a lingual frenectomy on a foster child who was referred by his speech therapist. It was amazing the immediate impact this procedure had on the child. Coupled with intensive speech therapy he went on to thrive. I will never forget the joy he had at all the new skills he could do with his untethered tongue. While we did not use the diode on babies, we used it often on children and adults of all ages for the frenectomy procedure.

I knew I wanted to own my own office, so I decided to leave that group in order to practice dentistry on the Eastside of town. I had a non-compete clause and had to wait at least a year for it to expire before moving back to the Mason area. During that time I also had access to a diode laser and performed the frenectomy procedure on my patients. I was still a part of a group practice and since I was offering IV Sedation for all of the offices, my main role for that year and a half was to put patients to sleep and do the dentistry needed. This required an intensive year long IV sedation course on pharmacology, IV access, getting Advanced Cardiac Life Support certified and performing IV sedations for a week at Miami Valley Hospital. Only 5% of dentists are licensed to do this procedure. I say that to assure you, I am devoted to advanced education way beyond what is required of my license or what a typical dentist does.

Once my non-compete had expired and a practice was for sale closer to home, I felt God nudge me on to the next big thing- practice ownership. I am so grateful for the connections I had made throughout my career and the recommendations of colleagues to the selling dentist that helped land my practice. When I bought the office I told my team that I wanted to have a Lip and Tongue-Tie Center. They can attest that this was in the plan from the very beginning once I was practicing as an owner/dentist.

At my new office I still had a diode laser and have been performing frenectomies on my patients who needed the releases for orthodontics, to help close the gap before eruption on younger kids and help reduce the effects on recession in adults. Not once in the last 7 years have I practiced without a laser. After owning my office for two years I finally felt like I was in a great place with my existing patients and getting to know them. I decided after hearing that there is a need for more release providers in the Cincinnati area to pursue the continuing education needed to expand my laser dentistry practice to infants.

There are several courses out there, but my colleagues in the space recommended Dr. Richard Baxter's Tongue-Tied course and Autumn Henning's TOTS course. Dr. Baxter literally wrote the book on tongue-tie and Autumn is one of the pioneers from a support provider standpoint. Autumn's course was two full days and was very focused on the multi-disciplinary team. Most of the attendee's were SLP's, OT's and IBCLC's. The course from Dr. Baxter was all for dentists and took weeks to complete. It went over all the research there is from the beginning of history until now. The course offered intense shadowing opportunity and age specific approaches. After the course I felt more than ready to begin implementing the procedure in my practice as I have done the procedure for years, have operated a laser for years and have been using my Light Scalpel CO2 Laser on patients daily since it arrived in September. I am very comfortable with its settings, usage and thrilled with the results compared to the diode.

So why has no one heard of me doing releases until now?

  1. I have been practicing in a group dentistry setting for the majority of my career where I had zero/little say in marketing my services.

  2. While I have been doing frenectomies for many years, I haven't specifically promoted that I do them because to me, it's like a dentist saying that they do fillings. A diode release frenectomy is just part of a general dentist practice and is present in almost every practice I have been a part of. It may seem uncommon to some, but due to my experience it is a normal tool, just like another drill or x-ray unit.

  3. I have not been working on babies as they are not usually seeing a dentist until they are 1 year old. I have only been working on my existing patients up until now. Unless you are or have been a patient of mine who needed this, it makes sense you haven't heard of me performing lip and tongue-tie releases.

  4. Now that I have uncommon technology, I want to serve patients beyond my practice pool. I firmly believe that God has called me to help as many patients as I can in as many ways I am capable. When I learned of the need for more providers, I answered the call.

  5. I did not have baby-specific training until now. Babies are a special population and even pediatric specialist dentists do not work on babies in residency. Dentists need extra training to identify specific cases where a frenectomy is needed on a baby. I pursued the most recommended and comprehensive courses and will continue to pursue new courses as they relate to the field in the future.

In summary, I hope this post gives you an insight into my background. While everyone has to start somewhere, I assure you this isn't my first lip tie, tongue-tie or buccal cheek tie release. I am dedicated to staying up to date with literature and publications. I appreciate all the support providers that help make this procedure successful. I welcome any dialogue if you have further questions. We are here to help and sincerely care about your family. We know first-hand how life changing this procedure is and want to share our skills with everyone in need. Our vision is the be the go-to frenectomy provider in Cincinnati for decades to come. That process starts with trust and knowing we are fully equipped with knowledge, experience and the best laser for the job, is a great start.

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