Episode 26: The Role of the Tongue in Breastfeeding & Development with Dr. Daniel Lopez
Jacqueline Kincer 0:32
This is the Breastfeeding Talk podcast. All right, welcome to the podcast. I have Dr. Daniel Lopez deal. He’s a board-certified osteopathic manipulative treatment and regenerative medicine specialist that practices at osteopathic integrative medicine in Lakewood, Colorado. He is a graduate of Midwestern University Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine. So hey, he’s from Arizona. And he’s been studying how the tongue especially when tethered affects the whole body anatomically, and overall health for over six years. And I think I found Dr. Lopez from an article that one of my teachers had shared or sent me. And I immediately started reading everything that he has on his website. He’s written so many amazing articles, I’m super excited to have you on the show to talk about what it is that you do. So welcome.
Dr. Daniel Lopez 1:29
Thanks. Thank you, thank you for having me, I really appreciate it. And I’m, I’m excited to be here and have this conversation and share more about what I do. Because I definitely feel like a lot of people don’t understand our profession. And strangely enough, I’m like it started here and in Missouri in the 1800s. And people here, so we’re like an unknown entity out here in the States. So
Jacqueline Kincer 1:57
yes, and it’s so interesting that you say that because I recently went through a major car accident, some injuries, and my main injury doctor who I’ve been working with, has a history of being an ER physician, and he told me that he worked at an osteopathic hospital here in the Phoenix area. And that that was most emergency medicine used to be DEOs practicing apparently, and so he had seen a lot of what the, you know, manipulative treatments can do for patients, they were still practicing that now I see a lot of deals out there really don’t do the manipulative treatments, but you do. So I’d love for you to describe maybe you know, kind of overall what you do, you know, in your treatment and how your style of practice is different from what people normally think of when it comes to, you know, other forms of bodywork or just, you know, a general deal.
Dr. Daniel Lopez 2:55
Sure, this, this may end up being a pretty long explanation. But I’ll just start out with with, in a sense kind of explaining my story and kind of how I got into it, because I think that’ll that will help. But when, when I was growing up in, I was a swimmer. And in high school, I was one of those, one of those people that every 20 minutes or so in class, I would get this nagging pain in my back and my spine. And then I’d have to twist in my chair and try to pop it and try to pop it the other way. And then I try to pop my neck and over time I was I was looking for answers for that. And it just seemed to get worse and worse. And then when I got to college, you know, still having to do that all the time. I was eventually having this feeling like I’d pop my tailbone. So I’d be like slumping in a chair and like trying to maneuver you know, in a way to try to pop my tailbone but having to do that, like every 20 minutes, I kind of felt like okay, there’s got to be an answer for this that will resolve this. But part of the problem for me was like, the one of the epiphanies that I had was, well, it’s popping up like this trying to pop if popping it is the solution then why do I keep having to do it every 20 minutes and and so I don’t say that to be critical or anything like that. But I know that feeling. And I know when people say for example, like you know when when you try to pop something, they’re like stop doing that. It’s a bad habit. I’m like what’s not really a habit when you have that feeling. You can’t make it go away and it’ll drive you crazy until you try to do something about it. But when when I started osteopathic medical school out there in Arizona, I was still searching for answers for that. And out there. I met a doctor who wasn’t affiliated with our school and who became my main mentor but going to him after a few visits. I remember sitting in class one day and just not having that feeling. And I think I watched one of my other classmates who was there twisting, trying to pop his back and, and suddenly it occurred to me, I was like, Oh, I don’t have that feeling anymore. So then I twisted and my, everything just felt like a nice stretch. And.
And so I was like, Is this what normal people feel like, you know, and from there, I then wanted to really understand what had happened because I was still very early on in my education at that point. But I wanted to understand what this doctor did differently because he didn’t pop a single thing. And in fact, his treatment was probably very subtle, but also seem to get changes where I’d never been able to get changes before. And so over my training and trying to understand this as best as I can, what I’ve, what I’ve really learned to discover is that we have to look at the body a bit differently.
You know, and part of that, part of that is what makes our osteopathic treatments differently, we’re not necessarily focused on trying to force things, we’re not trying to make determinations on, like, Okay, your body, like, for example, we’d say this vertebrae is over here, but it needs to be over here. So I’m just gonna crank on it. And, and, until it is in alignment, and then everything is I’m gonna assume that everything is great. You know, the, what I’ve come to do now is I look at the body in terms of well, if if something, for example is over here, but it feels like it should be over here. Now, I asked the question of why is the body doing that in the first place? You know, rather than looking at it, like it’s this static structure, and it’s just somehow something went wrong, and the body has no control over it?
It’s, the question then becomes like, well, what if the body is actively doing that for a purpose. And when you look at it, that way, it changes things. So it’s not just about forcing something, it’s about working with the body. So, so our treatments tend to be fairly gentle, but they also are a lot more comprehensive, we look at the body and atomically in a more holistic way, because when something is doesn’t seem to be structurally functioning correctly, then I go through the series of I asked myself, you know, anatomically, what, what are all the things that could be influencing this, that, that are that would force this to change?
And, and then what I what we do is, rather than trying to impose a like, force something into into place, we’re asking more, okay, what does the body need to heal this. So, really, our treatments end up being pretty gentle, because what we’re trying to do isn’t, is to trigger the body to heal itself, we’re just trying to tap into the body’s own self healing mechanisms, and, and trigger the body to heal itself. And I think a good story that I can, that I can share that kind of explains that in a way that also ties back into the tongue.
And what you were saying about emergency medicine is, a few years ago, I actually had put together this whole presentation on how the tongue is connected to the rest of the body. And I had gone through and anatomically and done a lot of research and done that. But I had been asked to give this talk at a I have about Denver, and it was out here. It just a course, for dentists and things like that. And I just kind of had been asked to do that last minute.
But so I went, I went in and gave that talk. But in the middle of it, you know, as I’m going through, one of the actually, teachers of that course, didn’t seem to be very impressed by what I was saying. So he started, you know, like, I kind of asked a hypothetical question is that I’ve been like, I’m trying to figure this, you know, this out and so I was wondering why this is why this is happening. And then I would hear from the peanut gallery, you know, like him say, like, well, it’s not happening or something like that. But the point of that is it just kind of threw me off. And I was like, oh, and then in the middle of that presentation, I’m starting to have this whole like self doubt of oh my god, am I just a total like, fool for doing all this?
Like, you know, am I really like, is there something to this? Or, or am I just making all this stuff this stuff up that I’ve been discovering? And but then after immediately after giving that presentation, and I was done, I get a call from my dad. And I was like, Well, this is weird. Why is he calling me so? You know, he I answer and he tells me like, you know, I don’t want you to be alarmed, but your mom was in a car accident and She’s in the emergency room now everything seems fine. Well, it turned out she broke her sternum.
And one of the things about it is that she lives within walking distance to me so and she’s a big fan of what we do. But when I got home after that, and then she got home from the ER, she asked me to treat her and then she had her sternum that was fractured. And so she was having some pain with breathing and then it just pain overall from the accident. But she asked me to work on her. And then this was a unique thing for me because I never really get to treat somebody who’s just had a fracture. And, and also, they obviously don’t cast the sternum. So it was it did give me a chance. But as I was working on her for a long time, I was working on her her sternum, the ribcage, doing all these gentle things, but I wasn’t really making as much of a as much progress as I really had wanted in.
And then it finally like dawned on me, like, I just gave this whole presentation about how the tongue is connected to the rest of the body. And I’m talking about how it’s connected to the chest and how a lot of the fascia the connective tissue goes down to the sternum and really makes a big shift there. So I’m like, alright, well, let me let me not just talk the talk, but let me walk the walk. And so I worked in her mouth and and manually released her tongue. And as soon as her tongue released, she takes this deep breath in. And then you hear this audible clunk in her sternum, and then she’s like, okay, now I can breathe much better in that, like, relieve a lot of my pain. And, but the thing about like, this, these osteopathic treatments is that sometimes they seem magical, and it’s not because they’re magical. It’s like, for example, someone comes in and they have this sternal pain, and we’re like, Alright, let me work in your mouth.
You know, and they don’t understand that it’s all connected, you work on your mouth, they suddenly feel better. There, they’re like, Well, I don’t know what he did. But suddenly, I feel better but for us, we have to understand how the whole body is anatomically connected, and how each affecting one piece affects everything else. So I hope that kind of explains it in some way. But it’s a lot about knowing anatomy in-depth, and understanding that everything affects everything else. And the last piece that I’ll leave you with is that it’s also about everything, that a structure can affect everything else.
So we a lot of times like to be reductionistic and be like, well, the musculoskeletal system has nothing to do with the organs and vice versa. And this structure has nothing to do with that structure. And, and I always tried to describe it in this way. I’m like, the muscles, bones, tendons, Israel, or their organs. You know, so So in reality, what we’re saying like when we say like, the muscle, muscular-skeletal system has nothing to do with the abdominal organs. You know, it’s kind of like saying, like, well, organs don’t communicate with each other. And, and the body to me just doesn’t work that way. It’s so we also have to be paying attention to what’s happening with the organs when people have pain and issues. It’s not just we’re only going to look at the musculoskeletal system and pretend that nothing else is could possibly having an effect on that. So yeah,
Jacqueline Kincer 13:37
no, you’ve, you’ve explained that so beautifully. And I think anybody who’s listening is going to be just as captivated as I am. Because it’s like, you’re speaking my love language. I just, I’ve always been all about the root cause of something right. So it’s never, you know, in my field, helping breastfeeding moms, the nipple pain isn’t because your nipple tissue is sensitive, right? There’s something functionally going on there. Or, you know, the baby who’s who’s crying and colloquially isn’t, you know, just, you know, it may, it might be a food intolerance, it might be a tongue issue, it might be a combination of things. And maybe the reason they can’t digest well is that their tongue is so tired, and, and all these things that I’m always trying to explain how it’s connected. And you know, how breastfeeding is about posture and all these things. And parents are like, Well, why would tummy time help? You know, or why would this help her?
And so I think you’re doing a good job of really setting the stage for this larger conversation we’re gonna have about breastfeeding and especially for the baby the tongue and there, it’s a whole-body experience. I think as you said, we’re, we’re kind of being reductionist a lot of the time and compartmentalizing things that breastfeeding is about a breast in a baby’s mouth. Well, yes, but it’s also about everything else that goes, you know, the breasts of the mouth are attached to and so when I have the opportunity and I see a need for baby to be referred to someone like yourself. And thankfully, you’ve connected me with some amazing, incredible doctors here locally, that I’ve just seen phenomenal results with. And parents are just, you know, kind of said what you said, it’s just magic. I don’t know, my baby’s head shape changed so much. Sure. You know, and I’m like, I don’t know how to explain it, you know.
So you did a really good job of explaining that. But I would love to dive in deeper about the tongues specifically, you put out so much information out there already. And like you said, you did this conference presentation, you have so much more that you’ve done it. And that’s coming. Maybe we could just talk about the tongue. And, you know, for parents who are listening, especially, what do they need to understand about the tongue and its importance with breastfeeding, but also other issues they might be seeing in their babies.
Dr. Daniel Lopez 15:53
Yeah, that is great. And I actually just recently wrote an article about how the tongue is it not just not really necessarily going into depth about how the tongue is connected to the rest of the body, but actually showing people how it’s connected to the rest of the body. And, and, you know, I know, I have put together these presentations and atomically to explain it all, but I still had trouble demonstrating it for people.
And then recently, in the last six, seven months, I finally found a way to show it to people. And what I what I ended up having people do is, I have it with an adult, I have them, you know, find a partner and, and I, you know, have their partners stand up and I tell the other person to put their hands on their, on their hips. And, and then what we do is I try to have I try to explain to them like, Okay, we’re gonna, we’re gonna see how tongue posture is affecting the body, the body’s posture, the overall posture. And so I tell them to start with having the person put their tongue on the floor of their mouth, so not on the not on their palate, where it should be. And when they do that, a lot of times the hips are a little bit off, they’re not level.
And then I tell them that you tell them, like, tell your partner now to take their tongue and put it on the, on the roof of their mouth. And immediately, you’ll see this shift. And then I say, Okay, now put it back down. And literally, things will go back to the way they were before. So it and I try to explain to them, I’m like this, this isn’t just like a parlor trick. This is the body in real-time showing how just moving it from the palate, where it should be to the floor of the mouth, where a mouth breather is putting their tongue, how that’s affecting the whole thing. And, and so that’s, that’s something that I recently did a post about.
But then also, I don’t know why it always comes back to this, but my mom actually just had a tongue tie release a few weeks ago. And this is her second. And the first time she did hers was around the same time I did my first one. And when we did it at that time, it was primarily done as an anterior release. And, and, and I kind of felt like, I feel like there’s still more like there’s a lot more than needs to be released. So I went back and to the same person had it done and did the same thing. And then I didn’t really feel that much different. So I kind of had given up on him for a while. But over the next couple years, as I learned more, I realized I still had a big piece intact and I could feel what it was doing to, to my body, my posture, it’s like being like, pulled down. So there there ends up being a lot of extra tension. And so what I ended up so I ended up getting that done, and then at that point, I kind of knew okay, my mom potentially needs more and I’ve been trying to tell her about it for years.
And finally, she just did it a few weeks ago. But one of the things that I did do, which I posted a picture in my article was kind of a similar thing. I took pictures of her hips, just standing posture before where the right hip was about an inch higher than the last and unfortunately doesn’t show as well it’s in the pictures but afterward it was It wasn’t completely level but it was a dramatically different but and the other thing that you don’t really capture from that picture is how much more her her back felt just after that release. And so there just is that understanding of okay this is having a much an impact on my More than just, it’s not just about the tongue.
And it’s not just about breastfeeding. I mean, because then we’re talking about you know, cranial facial development. And a lot of people have talked about that. And I also recently was explaining, you know, like, I often struggled with the concept of, okay, you put the tongue up on the roof of the mouth, and that’s gonna bring the palate down and widen it, I was like, Well, why, if you’re pushing up, does it come down, like I, you know, it was something that I
I was like, that doesn’t fully make sense to me how that happens. But then, but I did want to understand it. And so through part of our, our training as osteopaths, we, we talk about something that’s called the, the cranial rhythm. And, and that is our primary respiratory mechanism. And that is an underlying motion that happens, similar to how your chest expands and compresses when you’re going through your breath. But it’s a it’s something that’s going through your whole body. And really, that happens with your breath, too. I mean, take a deep breath in, you know, your shoulders rotate out, then when you breathe out, they rotate in, it’s, it’s pretty subtle.
And then you know, the same thing is happening with your hips and legs, and even into your head. And so, with this cranial motion, though, what I what I wanted, what I ended up feeling, as I was trying to understand this was that when, when the tongue rests on the palate, it goes through it, and say, like, we’re going through the inhalation phase, like you’re breathing in, your palate will, or your tongue will rise up towards the palate, and then splay out, so it’ll widen. And then when you breathe out, it kind of gets drawn back down and narrows. And by doing that, there’s this suction motion that’s also taking place that’s widening the palate, but also drawing it down. And as that happens, I think that if, if you look at somebody who has a high arch, let me see. Let’s say it like this. So the teeth also if this is the alveolar ridge, are going to be lower than they should be. But if you bring the palate down, the teeth also end up coming up. And that’s going to have an effect on the on the mandible. But
Jacqueline Kincer 22:29
Can I Can I ask a quick question? Yeah. Because like, I’ve seen some debate in our community of professionals who work with tongue ties. What came first the tongue that’s tied or the high palate? Or is it neither?
Dr. Daniel Lopez 22:46
I think it’s a combination of both personally. And I just want to say one more thing about that tongue motion is there’s also a going forward and back when things are happening, because that also helps bring the palette forward. But I don’t know which came first. I mean, my feeling is they’re both they’re kind of simultaneously because I think in as the, as the baby’s developing in utero. If the tongue can’t go up to the palate, it’s also not going to go through his motion, and they aren’t breathing, but they’re still going through that motion, the diaphragm still raises and lowers and, and so that motion is still happening. And, you know, we know that because babies hiccup, you know, for example, so we know that diaphragm is moving.
So that motion still has to happen. And from my perspective, it’s the tongue is tethered, and it physically can’t get to that palate ever. That’s going to affect the development of everything. I mean, and it’s not just that, from my perspective, I mean, if if you’ve ever heard of the concept of mechanical transduction, it’s a concept where the cells the tension that the cells have around them, is also something that they need, they also use it for signaling and, and so what that means is having too much or not enough tension can be affecting the way something rose so if you think about it, if someone is tongue-tied, for example.
Oftentimes we find that people have underdeveloped, small underdeveloped jaws, and one of the thoughts I’ve had and I have obviously have no way to prove this or anything like that is, but what I what I do often feel is that people who are tongue-tied, it’s, you know, the tongue attaches to the genial tubercle on the other side of the mando. On the chin, inside of the chin, I guess, you could say and, but it’s not just about that muscle attachment, the rest of there’s also all the things issue that attaches onto the inside along the jaw here, a lot of that is often very tender and sensitive on people and work on releasing that. But that often when people are tethered, that tension is also more than is, is stronger than I generally feel.
And I feel like when people are tethered more on one side than the other, I can feel that pole into their jaw stronger. Now, the reason that, to me is important is because if, if there’s that extra tension pulling in my thought is, I wonder if part of the reason we have underdeveloped Jaws is because that tension is kind of getting the signal of increased tension from the inside like alright, mandible stop growing as we’ve got, we’ve gotten to the amount of tension that we need. And, and it’s not quite that simple, because then there’s also the upper jaw that plays a role like with how the mandible develops, but there’s also the, the issue of the tongue isn’t also properly developing the upper, the upper jaw as well. But that is something that I do think, potentially is happening. And then I can’t remember if I was gonna say anything more regarding that, but
Jacqueline Kincer 26:16
that’s really good. That’s, I think that there’s a big piece of what you’re saying that really can be proven, right, because, you know, I’ve worked with adults doing myofunctional therapy, but mostly children and babies. And when the tension is released, you know, through the manual therapy that you’re describing, and in combination with the tongue or lip tie releases, I do see the baby’s chin shifting to be more forward. And the maxilla and the mandible are now more even though all it broadens and lowers and you you know, pull down the chin take a little peek in the mouth, we see the tongue is up against the palate. And then babies sort of have maybe a little bit different of an advantage than adults because they’re younger, and there’s more. You know, not so much solidified bone is there are an adult so it’s a little more malleable. You know, their, their cranial plates aren’t fused all those things. And we just see these changes more visibly. And I think more quickly, because one parents are paying close attention to every little bit of their baby as they’re holding them and watching them grow and develop.
But those changes that we wouldn’t have otherwise seen had they not gotten that treatment, I know for sure. Because I see parents that refuse the treatment. And over time, it seems that those issues get worse, the jaw gets tighter, the baby’s lash gets more shallow, and you know, the issues seem to become worse, not better, just because they’re growing. And, you know, I don’t know if you have some perspective on growth and growth spurts and how that affects things too. Because I I definitely have parents say, well, a lot of things changed after this, you know, growth spurts?
Dr. Daniel Lopez 28:04
Well, I think there’s, there’s a myth out there this misconception that for example, babies will outgrow or their tongue ties or the tongue ties was going to stretch and that, you know, you leave it for a year, and they’re going to be fine. And the reality is, that doesn’t, that doesn’t happen. I mean, ever. And I actually, again, kind of go back, I wrote an article about this recently, but I, I the best way I can explain it is, is, you know, the way the tongue ties develop is similar to how, you know, the webbing and our fingers and toes developing. So initially, when, when we’re in utero, and we start starting out development, we look like aquatic animals, you know, we have the webbing all the way up to our fingertips, and then the cells in the webbing go through this apoptosis program. So that’s where they recede until they get, to where they need to. Now in abnormal situations, what ends up happening is, you know, you can get some of the cells received, but then, the process stops prematurely, and then you end up with, you know, you could end up with two fingers tethered together.
Now, if, and I try to explain this to parents and like, or to people and like if, if you had a baby that was born with fingers tethered together, and you took them to a doctor, and the doctor said, You know what, I don’t want you to worry about this. Because your child is going to outgrow this. Would you be like this guy is a total nut. Like there is no way that’s going to happen? Because that’s the way it works like that tissue isn’t going to magically somehow correct itself at that point. And so it’s the same thing with atomic Tai. And just like with it with, if you had tethered fingers, I mean, you, you might try stretching it, stretching those fingers out and stretching the tissue, but those, those tissues aren’t made to stretch. So that you may get some more flexibly there. But in reality, you’re never gonna have those tissues stretched away, like enough to restore normal function. And that’s
Jacqueline Kincer 30:26
an excellent way to describe that. So thank you for that the hand analogy, I think is really effective for parents to understand the not outgrowing to, you know, what you’re describing.
Dr. Daniel Lopez 30:37
Yeah, and I tell people, I’m like, Alright, now imagine this kid trying to play the piano, you know, and I’m like, they maybe will get good at it. But they’re never going to be as good as if you were just able to surgically correct that because, and really something that I try to explain to is what the end goal of what we’re really trying to accomplish, isn’t to mutilate the tongue or the child or baby or whatever. It’s really to finish the process to restore it the way it was meant to be. So again, if you had, if you had fingers tethered, you’re just be trying to restore normal function. And that’s what we’re trying to do with the tongue. You’re not trying to do anything more than that. You’re not trying to, you know, obviously inflict pain and cause harm and all that your, your underlying goal is to restore function the way nature would have intended it to be if that process hadn’t gone wrong.
Jacqueline Kincer 31:33
Yeah, that’s a really, really beautiful explanation. And yes, I hope that, that parents who are listening out there know that we’re never trying to do harm, and I always try to impress upon my clients. Look, I really don’t want your baby to go through a painful procedure. That’s not my goal I had to do with my children. And it was, it was heartbreaking, but I knew they needed it. And this is why and this is what you’re going to see on the other side coming out of it. I think a lot of parents, you know, have an easier time understanding the direct effects of the Tethered tongue on the tongue itself. But you’ve already talked about some other things in the body about the sternum and the diaphragm. Would you mind going a little bit deeper, and how you see tongue tie affecting, you know, specifically babies and other ways, just besides, you know, the, the obvious symptoms that we might see.
Dr. Daniel Lopez 32:24
Yeah, and I’ve looked at this a lot with adults. So I mean, let me just go there first a little bit, just because I think that helps to explain that but but with adults, what I often see is, and I’ve been experimenting with this a lot is how much the tongue really caused can cause neck strain. So if there’s tongue dysfunction, and you have a tongue tie, and the tongue is tense, it basically makes it about impossible for the neck to sit on the head correctly. So with adults, I see a lot of adults who end up having headaches, who have a ton of neck pain and issues. But it goes beyond that. Like I said, it’s a whole body thing.
It’s just a lot of times it shows up pretty strongly there. But then also posture issues a lot of the forward head, I know a lot of people talk about that being, you know, the body trying to increase the airway, but I don’t necessarily fully adjust see that I see this, this increased tension, factually, that happens where the trachea is, in a sense, like, made really tight and pulled down. And it’s anchored down into the chest and diaphragm. So because it’s stronger down there things when things tighten, overall, they get pulled, people just get pulled down into that posture. And so it physically makes it impossible for someone to have good posture, they’re gonna always be fighting this, like this strong tension from the inside that’s not willing to release and, and a lot of that immediately releases with the tongue tie, release. It allows the hyoid in the trachea to to drop and relax and then suddenly, this whole shift in the chest takes place and then it’s like having a tube that’s been too short suddenly lengthened and so I haven’t really gone into detail about why that is, but like how that happens, but, but that is something fascinating.
Yeah. Yeah, so going kind of into with babies and things like that. I mean, again, it’s gonna, it’s gonna have an effect on how their neck develops, if their head can’t sit on their neck properly. And then it’s going to have an effect on their chest. They’re potentially gonna have a much harder time with tummy time because a lot of times there’s they’re being pulled forward so they’re, they’re not able to do like back arches as as easily and as comfortably it’s going to be having an effect on their whole autonomic there. their nervous system and how that’s developing because their body knows what’s going on there.
It knows their nervous system knows that there are problems but and one thing that I’ve, I haven’t really, I don’t know, that I’ve heard anybody else talking about. And maybe it’s just because of what in my field, but I’m like, but it I’ve come to the conclusion that I think a lot of a lot of body aches and pains given no traumas like I grew up, I didn’t really have traumas, but I had a lot of like, aches, pains problems, like when people would touch me here and be like, it was painful in any way, like anywhere they touch me, it was painful.
And, and, and then so having the tongue tie releases made it so that I could finally like my whole body in a sense, like relax and stay relaxed. Now, I also had a lot of amazing, like osteopathic bodywork and things like that, that had really made a big difference before that. So I already had a lot of changes that had taken place. But, but that really made the biggest change with with certain things that I’ve been trying to solve for years. Where, for example, like draw muscle, like Master tension, I was always like, I knew how to release those. And I found it to be super important. And I just found that when I released these muscles, like the rest of the body could change.
And I understood that through because of its influence on dura, which is a specialized membrane in the in the head, and then down the spinal cord and all that, but but every time I would release this, like a week later would come back and people you know, and I would do this with my patients. And they would say, Well, you know, it’s, why does this keep happening? And at that point, the best answer, I had this stress, you know, but they, a lot of times they were like, Well, I haven’t really been stressed.
And that sometimes was my experience to where I’m like, Well, I feel felt very relaxed. But then the question I started trying to figure out is okay, like, I mean, if it is stress, like what is it that? How can someone be worry free will say, yet their body still be completely stressed out? And and eventually, as I learned about, you know, airway issues as well it was like, Okay, well, if you’re not breathing at night, then your body is going to be stressed, regardless of whether you’re on vacation or not. But when I when I finally didn’t, my tongue tie releases, my face muscles finally relaxed and stayed relaxed. And that allowed a huge change throughout the, the rest of my body. And so I’ve found that with a lot of my patients, a lot of times when they come in having headaches, neck pain, one of the first things I do is just manually treat their tongue.
And even though I can’t undo what the what the tongue tie is doing, like, I ended up being limited in terms of how much I can get to let go because sometimes things won’t like Oh, because of the tongue time, but I can still make an oftentimes enough of a difference that their neck shifts, and then their head sits differently on their neck. And then at that point, it’s one of those things where it’s like, alright, if we get stuck in this cycle of having to go, come have you come back over and over and over then then it’s like, alright, we need, we need to start talking about whether you need to have this procedure done or not. Most the time? It is yeah, no, that’s,
Jacqueline Kincer 38:41
that’s really excellent. I think that was kind of what I had found with, um, with my daughter, and I kind of shared her story on a more recent episode before this one. And I was in a bit of denial with her that she was tied, because I had my perfect pregnancy and perfect home birth and just perfect postpartum and thought, you know, there’s no way there is no way my baby is tied. It’s not happening to me. And she was but it, I kept taking her for the bodywork, and it would help and then she would seem to get tense again and start spinning up again.
And it was just this cycle that kept happening, unfortunately, and so she would feel relief, and then it would come back. And for sure, I started to see the pattern of Well, every time she was feeding, which is a lot when you’re a newborn. At the end of the day, she would be very upset and even start to become colicky where I couldn’t calm her, you know, and it’s If Your Tongue is always sort of fighting itself, it makes sense where she’s trying to move it one way, but it won’t. And then she’s creating all this tension. And then it just seemed like you know, she could no longer even really open her mouth enough and so then we’d go get more bodywork and she could and then like you’re saying, you can only do so much on your end of things. But I also would say that, had I not done that piece of the bodywork with her,
Dr. Daniel Lopez 40:09
I don’t, I don’t ever see
Jacqueline Kincer 40:12
that the tongue-tie release itself would have been a full benefit. Because if she still had all that other tension in place, do you see that causing some issues in your patients that, you know, they, they can’t just do the tongue-tie release, there are other areas that need to be released that you really have to work on as the deal?
Dr. Daniel Lopez 40:32
Yeah, definitely. I mean, is in and as I’ve talked about, you know, like, kind of going through, like how the whole body is connected to, to the tongue, you know, in different ways. So that, you know, and I find the tongue to be the most powerful driver of things. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other places that need to be addressed and looked at and released. And I think a lot of times when you do, for example, diaphragm, you know, it can, it can be pretty strong. And I still find that a lot of times releasing the tongue releases the diaphragm more than vice versa. But that doesn’t mean that if there isn’t still an underlying issue, once you release the diaphragm through the tongue, that if there’s still diaphragm tension and problems, that’s still factually going to be ultimately affecting the tongue. And vice versa. Same with the ribcage and things like that. So there’s, there’s a lot of places that need to potentially also be addressed. And I know, just personally after having, you know, my, the most, my most recent tongue tie that where I had them go deep, and it really made a big difference as well.
But even after I healed, from that, I still ended up finding places in my mouth and my tongue, that were still really sensitive, really sore. And I still had to release those muscle fibers. And so you can’t just also assume that you do the tongue-tie release and that everything is magically better. And releasing those made an improvement again, kind of his posture thing where I suddenly felt like, Okay, now I’m not being dragged down. And, and it was just from releasing the vertical muscles of the tongue that and finally allowed it that allowed that space to kind of, like lengthen out and, and help with that improvement. So, you know, it’s, there can be still things going on in the mouth, even after a tongue tie release, but also the rest of the body.
And I think those all need to be addressed. I mean, our work, we’re, what we’re really trying to do is get the body to function as optimally as possible, structurally. And so that’s what we’re ultimately about. And so that’s, that’s what we’re trying to do. And that should be the underlying goal. I mean, really, like, it’s, the tongue is just a big influencer of that, but it’s not the whole thing. So I hope that answers the question.
Jacqueline Kincer 43:10
It does. It does. And I, I always know this comes up, and I’m sure it’s coming up as people are listening. Probably one they’ve done the exercise while they’re listening of, you know, I’m breathing, where’s my tongue? Do I feel it moving? And all of that, as you so eloquently described, but also thinking, you know, especially a new mom who’s listening, going, you know, yes, I’m, I’m sleep-deprived, or, you know, I just had a baby, and my body’s recovering from birth. But, you know, I have these aches and pains are maybe I always have, or maybe some developed in pregnancy and haven’t quite gone away.
And they might be recognizing some things in their own bodies. For this, and a lot of parents, you know, we we discover the baby’s tired, right, and, or they kind of suspected, and then I show them, you know, here’s the limited movement, and this is why and they go well, you know, I I kind of think I’m tongue-tied to her or my husband’s totally tongue-tied, he snores or he’s always got headaches, or, you know, he’s, he’s got TMJ problems, or, you know, and I just hear this so much, they are probably listening to you and your story about your body, your near mom and thinking, Oh, yes, of course, I’ve got something going on as well. Um, and for those people listening, I kind of feel like we almost all have something, you know, I for sure was was tongue tied as well and have had it released. And, you know, I, I remember, after getting mine released that I felt like I took the first deep breath in my whole life ever. And it was I my shoulders dropped and my posture change. And I remember as a child, my mom always telling me, you know, stand up straight, straighten your back.
And I was like, this is as straight as it goes. I can’t force it to go any straighter than this. And now decades later, I have the answer. Why? So you’re answering a lot of questions for people and not everybody lives in Denver. But I know you’ve got so many amazing like I said at the beginning of the interview You’ve got some amazing articles on your website, blog posts you’ve written, you’ve got courses, kind of coming out with something new, I would really love for you to talk about that. How can people, one maybe even find someone like yourself if they want to see someone person or obviously they can see you if they’re in the Denver area but to some of the resources that you’ve put together online for people?
Dr. Daniel Lopez 45:20
Yeah, so let’s, let’s talk about that a little bit. So the first thing is, I guess just how to find somebody. And, you know, unfortunately, I can’t tell you that everybody that does the work that I do is necessarily well versed in treating Tang and, and things like that. But for me, a lot of this has been my own personal journey, me discovering things, and testing out and experimenting and learning and writing about it. But not everybody obviously has done that. So, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t amazing people out there that can still provide a lot of value. If you wanted to find somebody, I think the best resource is through the cranial Academy, and the website there is cranial academy.org, and they have a link for find a provider.
And so you can try to find somebody in your area, that way, that’s probably the best directory, I think that I generally would send people to, and go from, at least use that as a starting point. As far as like, if you wanted to go through and read some of the articles and things that I have, one of the first places to go to, or the first place to go to would be my website, and that would be Daniel Lopez do.com. And I have, I have articles on there, I’ve recently put in a actually a tongue meditation, audio that that I’ve, that I’ve made. And, and I made that for so people could just, in a sense, like have an experience of how their tongue is related to the body feel this motion that we were talking about. And, and then try to feel how it’s how it’s all connected in just a subtle, but helpful way. And when the or a myofunctional therapist that that recently downloaded, it was telling me she was like I meditate every week. And, and I have never really like focused on the tongue like in felted in that way.
So it’s just meant to help give a different experience, or a more in depth experience for people who want to do something like that. And then on my on my website to I have a a course an online course for for people for neck pain and their self help techniques. But a big piece of that is within that is I have some tongue self treatment, because I do feel like that is the biggest, most important piece and, and I have had people who have purchased the course telling me that Oh, I you know, like, I can already feel this making difference, specially the tongue stuff.
So I mean this, this is a unique, like neck pain course. But that is what it’s what it was, what I made it for was for that kind of thing. And so I think that helps people have an interesting experience of you know, like seeing their body in a different way. And then finally, recently, I’m working on a more in-depth course on how to self-treat the tongue and release different fibers and specific fibers and things like that it’s really meant for the general population. And that is a website, put it on a different website is called the T element, which kind of stands for the tongue element. But right now, I’m still in the process of developing that course.
So you know, if you go to the, if you go to the page, it’s just going to have a Sign-Up button. And then if you want to go through there and you’re interested in finding out more when I haven’t done then I would just recommend going in there and signing up and, you know, send more information once I have the course completed. But I think that’s everything I have.
I’ll be I am actually planning on writing a lot more in the near future in terms of more content, more ideas, observations, things, things that I’ve made that I think people will find interesting that I didn’t even get a chance to talk about today. But I’m sure I’ll you know, I’ll be adding that information, and maybe in a future episode if there’s interest we Talk about some of the other things.
Jacqueline Kincer 50:01
Yeah, absolutely. I think there are a lot of guests I’ve had where I’m like, we definitely need another episode with you. And I also feel like you’re kind of like the Joe Dispenza of the tongue, like you just really so eloquently state, you know, the interconnectedness of it all. And I’m sure that anyone listening has a much deeper understanding not only of what you offer and what you do, but really just how all these systems are really connected. And systems don’t even really seem like the right word to do it justice. But you’ve just explained it so well. And it might even be an episode where I’m sure people will go back and listen to it a second time and take notes because there’s a lot here to take away. So I really just want to say thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and your wisdom and your experience with us. And I would just love for you to share any final thoughts, anything that we didn’t get to? You kind of touched on maybe something and anything else you want to share?
Dr. Daniel Lopez 50:58
We think that it not at this time. Well, I’ll leave you with one last thought might as well do that. Yeah, something that I’ve been pondering recently is, I kind of touched into that a little bit earlier was how the, I often feel like one side of tongue ends up being more tethered than the other and gives you the more tethered side leads to having a narrower jaw on that side. The palate isn’t generally even if it’s got a high palate, it’s generally not symmetrical. So usually the side that is more tethered has a slightly higher palate. But with that, one thing I’ve I’ve noticed is it’s it’s part of a bigger overall picture. And one thing I started noticing recently looking at my patients was that their jobs, if you were to take measure from the angle to the gym, compare the left side to the right side, the right side is often shorter. And, and I had always noticed that on myself, but then suddenly, I don’t know why I never started looking at it for patients. But recently, I started looking at that on my patients and every single one had that same pattern. And as part of that the right year beings is more forward, if you look, you know, here the right year ends up being a little higher, and I can see it on YouTube. But that’s all part of that adaptation, I think it’s an adaptation to the job being smaller is then the temporal bone to form TMJ has to shift forward because the obviously the the, the mandible is shorter, so it’s got to come forward and then and then the being a little bit higher on the right side ends up being that that’s a different type of motion altogether.
But for us osteopaths, we, we look at the bones of the skull as not fusing, you know, they have motion between them. And that is an important concept for us, because that’s something that we retreat and address when they get compressed that in itself can cause problems. And so I pay attention to these nuances, because to me, they’re significant and have an effect on the nervous system. So I hope that’s a fun little thing to ponder. I’m still trying to figure that one out completely. But But I do see it almost I have seen it almost universally and I haven’t fully I don’t fully understand it. But it is something that I that I see pretty, pretty often.
Jacqueline Kincer 53:28
Wow. Yeah, no, I feel really seen. And I really feel judged right now, because I’m sure you’re looking at me going, Oh, that’s what’s wrong with her? No, but it’s great. It’s your perfect, there’s
Dr. Daniel Lopez 53:38
nothing wrong with any of any of you. I mean, it’s not about like, you know, pointing out imperfections in people, it’s just understanding that I mean, I look at my face, and I’m like, I can be really hyper critical and all that.
Jacqueline Kincer 53:51
But it makes sense what you’re saying, because I think that there’s oftentimes people seeking cosmetic treatments for some of these things that you’re saying, you know, I’ve seen, I have one ear that sticks out more than the other and I used to be really self-conscious as a kid. And when I was older, I learned, you know, you could have the surgery done where they kind of like tie it back or whatever, which I never pursued, you know, but I hear differently out of each year because of the different positions and there’s things like that where, you know, or or you know, the my orbits around my eyes, those bones there I have a stigmatism in one eye and when i is being compressed more than the other.
And so there are all these things that you know, eventually we can sort of put together the whole picture and go oh, well, that’s why that’s going on. And I think that final thought that you shared. Actually, it was an article you wrote, which I’ll even dig up on your website and share. I think it was the first one I read on your site about the orbit development as part of the cranial facial development on the palate and the tongue, and then all being connected. And I remember going to my eye doctor who actually teaches it Midwestern, oddly enough now and I brought that to him. And he seemed like a really conventional guy. He’s an eye doctor, not an osteopath. And I said, you know, do you think that’s why people have astigmatism? And he was like, Yeah, I could totally see that being lie. And I was like, wow, okay, I learned something new. So I’ve learned so much from this episode from you. I really just thank you for sharing just a small piece of your knowledge and wisdom with us. And yeah, we’d love to have you back for a second episode to share more.
Dr. Daniel Lopez 55:24
Sure, we can always talk about the eyes and the orbit and all that. The simplest thing I can say with that is, you know, it’s the it’s the same bones that make up the pallet that make up the floor of the orbit. So if you affect one of the arches rising, why wouldn’t orbit be affected either? So,
Jacqueline Kincer 55:41
absolutely. So Well, thank you again, Dr. Lopez. It’s been a pleasure.
Dr. Daniel Lopez 55:47
You’re welcome. It’s my pleasure, anytime.
In today’s episode, we’re welcoming Dr. Daniel Lopez to the show!! Daniel Lopez, D.O. is a board certified osteopathic manipulative treatment and regenerative medicine specialist that practices at Osteopathic Integrative Medicine in Lakewood, Colorado. He is a graduate of Midwestern University Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine. He has been studying how tongue, especially when tethered, affects the whole body anatomically and in overall health for over 6 years.
We are talking about the whole-body connection of the tongue and it’s movements, and the effect it has on growth and development for our babies (and into adulthood!). It’s an in-depth conversation that will be enlightening to any parent and professional alike!
- Dr. Lopez’s personal website is the best place to find his blog posts
- Dr. Lopez’s course on tongue self-treatments for neck pain and headaches called “The T Element”
- Understanding Tongue and Lip Ties: From Newborns To Adults: Course Link
- Tongue meditation
- Find an Osteopath near you