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Posted on July 30, 2019
As many of our patients and friends are aware, the Dunn family recently returned from a trip to Ethiopia. They met with the birth families of their four adopted children and worked with Jeanie’s non-profit, Haddis Ministries (more on that soon). The family brought wheelchairs for disabled children and donated suitcases, clothes, and supplies to the Bridges of Hope orphanage. During Jeanie’s visit to the orphanage a few months ago, one boy in particular asked for Dr. Dunn’s help.
His name is Erzik and he “just wanted to talk like the other kids.” Erzik needed a frenectomy. (You may remember when my son sort of did this to himself a few years ago.) When Dr. Dunn arrived at the facility, the boy leapt into his arms and gave him a huge hug and a kiss on the cheek and thanked him over and over for coming to help him. Most of our little patients are glad to see us, but this was next level. He was obviously very nervous, but climbed into the chair and opened wide for Dr. Dunn to do his work.
Like many children, Erzik was born with a tight lingual frenum. This means that the attachment under his tongue was too short and too tight, which severely limited the range of motion of his tongue. In many cases, it can interfere with nursing, chewing, and swallowing. In Erzik’s case it caused a speech impediment because his tongue could not lift to the top of his mouth to form sounds like “L.”
A frenectomy is a fairly straight-forward procedure where the frenum—the attachment under the tongue—is clipped, which frees the tongue and allows for a full range of motion. Here at Lake Baldwin Dental, Dr. Dunn has a laser that makes the procedure fast and easy and decreases healing time to nearly nothing. However, he did not have his laser in Ethiopia, so he had to go old-school. The healing process was somewhat of a concern for Erzik’s case because he usually drinks boiled rain water, and it would be difficult to keep the area free of bacteria and parasites which would otherwise not harm him. However, after a few very careful days, his tongue was healed with no issues.
Dr. Dunn says the boy gave him enthusiastic thumbs-ups during the procedure, even though he couldn’t stop shaking. While it was not as fast and easy as it would be for kids here in Orlando, Erzik hung in there and as soon as it was done he tested his new voice. Suddenly, he could move his tongue and speak clearly, and one of the first “L” sounds he chose was to tell Dr. Dunn “I love you!”Check out the pictures to see how Dr. Dunn helped Erzik keep smiling!
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