Book Review: Tongue-Tied by Dr. Richard Baxter

How a Tiny String Under the Tongue Impacts Nursing, Speech, Feeding, and More

I have to admit that until I read Dr. Richard Baxter’s book (Tongue-Tied: How a Tiny String Under the Tongue Impacts Nursing, Speech, Feeding, and More), I though I knew the basics principles of tongue-tie and how to properly manage this all-too-common condition. I finished reading the entire book over 3 days with an entirely new perspective, excitedly implementing the principles the next day when I started seeing patients. 

Tongue tie, also known as ankyloglossia, is a congenital condition where the bottom of the tongue is tethered to the floor of mouth with a band of mucous membrane, connective tissue, muscle, or as in most cases, a combination of all three type of tissues. He also covers lip-tie, where the upper lip is tethered in the milling to the upper jaw. These conditions can lead to problems with infant nursing, speech, and swallowing  functions. 

Dr. Baxter and various other contributing authors present a well-balanced, comprehensive overview of the origins, consequences and management of tongue and lip tie. The introductory chapters start off with myths and misconceptions about tongue tie, especially amongst within the medical profession. 

The book is divided into five sections: nursing, feeding, speech, various other issues, and what to do now. Each section details a thorough description of how tongue-tie alters normal function, how to assess and evaluate the problem, and how to manage the condition using an interdisciplinary approach. Dr. Baxter brings in speech and language pathologists, a lactation consultant, an orofacial myofunctional therapist, a chiropractor and a body worker to complement his excellent review of each basic area. He ends each of the fist three sections by presenting a good overview of the the research that is currently available.

Section 4 covers sleep and airway issues (which was very well presented) and various other complementary ways of treating tongue and lip tie using orofacial myofunctional therapy, chiropractic and body work. The last section gives very good advice on how to choose a tongue release provider for the patient or parent, case studies, and resources for health care professionals for further learning and education.

It’s clear that Dr. Baxter is passionate about this topic. He personally went through numerous medical, dental and surgical procedures for his tongue tie and underdeveloped facial structures. Even his children had their tongue ties released with good results. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and I look forward to furthering my education as an otolaryngologist and sleep physician in this important area of clinical care.

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