We recommend starting pre-frenectomy exercises as soon as you are considering the procedure as we believe this will help your baby get familiar with having your fingers in their mouth several times a day. We also want you to be confident and comfortable with doing these exercises. Building trust with your baby is very important. Some babies can experience an oral aversion after having a procedure in the mouth.
These pleasant exercises will encourage resuming normal tongue movements and we recommend doing these exercises 3-5 times a day. It is important to make oral work fun and playful. Make sure you are smiling at your child and using a pleasant voice when doing these exercises. Singing, laughing, along with skin to skin contact also helps to keep your baby happy while you're encouraging them to use their tongue in a new way. Be sure to always start with clean hands.
Bip Bop Boop Game (Desensitize the palate including gag reflex)
Begin with touching baby’s chin saying “BIP”
Touch baby’s nose saying “BOP”
Touch baby’s upper lip saying “BOOP” (touching the upper lip will tell baby to open mouth)
Press down on the center of baby’s tongue saying “BEEP” (if baby does not open mouth when upper lip is touched, tickling the lower lip may help)
(Catherine Watson Genna: Supporting Sucking Skills in Breastfeeding Infants)
Follow The Finger (Functional exercise)
Slide your finger along baby's lower gums from one side to the other starting in the back of the gums while encouraging baby to chase your finger from side to side with his tongue. Also rub Upper gums area to teach elevation skills.
Tug-O-War (Strengthening exercise)
This is best done by getting your baby used to taking a Mam orthodontic pacifier. This specific pacifier allows your baby to create suction with the posterior tongue. The Soothe or Nuk pacifier encourages biting and holding with the lips which we are trying to discourage and break the habit. You will need to hold the pacifier in until your baby uses the tongue to suck, then play Tug-O-War. It is not unusual for your baby to push the pacifier out with a swallow until enough suction is created by the posterior part of the tongue to hold the pacifier in. Remember, this is a workout. Try for a few minutes 3 times a day to start and offer other times as desired.
Another way to perform this exercise is to touch your baby's upper lip to encourage opening of the mouth wide. When you child does, slide your finger in their mouth, pad up, on top of their tongue and allow them to suck. While your baby sucks and you press down on their tongue slightly, gently play tug-o-war, pulling your finger out slightly and letting them work to suck you back in. This can be especially helpful just before your baby breastfeeds, since it helps baby learn proper tongue movement for breastfeeding.