A frenectomy is the removal of muscle attachment or frenum in the mouth. The procedure is performed to allow greater freedom of movement. There are several reasons it may have been recommended for you or your child. Some of the most common reasons include:
- Speech improvement
- Facilitate growth and development
- Facilitate improved eating or nursing
- Prevention of recession of gum tissue
- Improvement of orthodontic outcomes
Where are they in the mouth?
- Lingual frenum – The attachment that connects the tongue to the bottom of the mouth
- Labial frenum – The attachment that attaches the lips to the gum above the top two front teeth and below the bottom two front teeth
- Buccal frena – The strands of tissue that connect the gums to the insides of the cheeks
In newborns, a restricted lingual frenum may make it difficult to nurse or take a bottle. This is what is referred to as being “tongue-tied.” If uncorrected into the toddler years, parents and caregivers may notice that it can begin affecting speech. Oftentimes, it is first noticed when the child enters pre-kindergarten or elementary school. Fortunately, a typical frenectomy can usually be performed quickly and with minimal pain during the first few weeks of birth. It is also very common to perform the procedure for younger kids and even adults when applicable.
For a prominent maxillary, or upper, labial frenum, the concern is the potential for orthodontic problems. If the frenum attachment is located too far down near the gum line, it can interfere with proper growth and development of the palate. This results in a large gap between these two teeth. Though parents may be concerned about this gap from a cosmetic perspective, it is generally recommended that a frenectomy wait until further consultation with an orthodontist. If the gap remains between two permanent teeth after orthodontics, the labial frenectomy should be considered as a solution to the abnormal spacing. In many cases, the eruption of adult teeth result in a natural closure of the gap caused by the labial frenum’s length.
How is the procedure done?
We will assess the area in question to determine whether or not the procedure is necessary. Generally, unless the existing frenum is causing a problem with feeding, such as breastfeeding in infants and toddlers, or is complicating speech, more natural and noninvasive approaches are considered first. If the surgery is deemed necessary, it is performed in our office with a soft-tissue laser and local anesthetic. The entire procedure typically lasts only 10 to 15 minutes. There is generally no bleeding involved and healing is quite rapid.
Recovery can be a matter of 2-3 days and up to two weeks. The patient often receives pain relief medication to help with soreness at the surgical site. Proper aftercare procedures, including keeping the area clean and recommended exercises of the tongue, are explained to the patient prior to leaving Downtown Dental.
Questions about a Frenectomy?
If you have concerns or would like to schedule a consultation about a possible frenectomy please contact our office at 765.345.8284.