The dentist changed his life.
The day after a mostly nonverbal Texas boy received a non-invasive laser treatment, he woke up his parents with a simple phrase: “Momma, I’m hungry.”
More than a year after Mason Motz received his life-altering surgery, his family is coming forward as a “thank you” to the doctor who performed the surgery.
Before receiving the treatment in April 2017, Mason could barely speak and missed important childhood milestones.
He only made sounds like “Ma” instead of mom or “Da” instead of dad.
After years of speech therapy and doctors’ visits, Mason’s father, Dalan, and mother, Meredith, took him to see Dr. Amy Luedemann-Lazar at Kidstown Dental in Katy, Texas.
They brought Mason to the office to fix a cavity, but ended up finding out he had something called tongue-tie, also known as Ankyloglossia — a condition that involves a band of tissue tying the tongue, limiting its range of motion.
In addition to have his tongue cut, Mason also had five teeth removed.
“The procedure took about three minutes, not very long … and the recovery time, which is dependent on the patient, was a seven hour turnaround for Mason,” Dalan Motz explained.
Mason started talking a little the evening following his surgery, but he was still trying to adjust to the pain from all the work that was done in his mouth.
Motz and his wife grew worried that night when they didn’t hear Mason having trouble breathing on the sleeping monitor — they had become accustomed to the sounds of him gasping for air, wheezing, coughing or snoring.
“In the past Mason would breathe every two minutes and gasp for air,” Motz said.
It wasn’t until the next morning that Mason truly started to speak.
Motz recalled doctors saying Mason “had the language before the surgery. He knew it … he had the words, but his mouth wasn’t allowing him to articulate the sounds.”
Now Mason enjoys speaking to his 4-year-old brother, Max, and singing songs from the movie “Les Misérables,” something he does when he feels nervous.
“Because he was blocked from being able to articulate his feelings at a young age, he refers back to something that makes him happy … and that’s singing or acting out scenes from a movie,” his father said.
Mason also enjoys telling his mom to “settle down.”
Motz explained his wife has been “on cloud nine” since the successful treatment.
Luedemann-Lazar has been trying to raise awareness of tongue-tie in hopes doctors can know to check it.
Signs a child may have of tongue-tie could be unexplained cavities, behavior problems, speech difficulties, poor sleep, breast-feeding issues and eating problems. Certain facial features can also be associated with the syndrome.
“We’ve gone through geneticists and different pediatricians — and nobody knew to even look through this to be a contributing factor,” Motz said.
A large majority of the dental work was funded through a nonprofit organization called The School of Athens, a charity formed by soldiers in Oklahoma.
Motz wants others to know that, “Just because the dentist isn’t in network … or you have to put it on a credit card — reach out. Don’t let money be a reason for you not to help your child.