A frenectomy is simply the surgical removal of a frenulum or a small fold of tissue that prevents a given organ in your body from moving too much or too far. In dentistry, we’re mainly concerned with three types of frenula:
- Labial – connects your upper lip to the gum tissue of your upper teeth
- Lingual – connects your tongue to the floor of your mouth
- Gingival – attaches to the gum tissue between two teeth
Generally, frenula are quite useful in helping to control the movement of otherwise poorly restricted organs, but occasionally the tissue does more harm than good. This is most common with the labial and lingual frenula and is usually first noticed in children as their dentition is developing.
When the labial frenulum is overgrown or putting too much pressure on the gingival tissue to which it’s attached, it can cause a number of problems: discomfort, gum recession, impediment of the teeth erupting, or a large gap between the front two teeth, which may not be correctable through orthodontic treatment. Removal in these instances can significantly relieve discomfort and restore normal function of the front teeth. When possible it is usually advised to wait until a child’s permanent teeth have erupted to remove the frenulum.
An overgrown lingual frenulum, on the other hand, can result in what’s commonly known as being “tongue-tied” When this attachment extends too far towards the tip of the tongue it can result in serious restrictions on your child’s ability to eat and speak properly. This will often start to present as a problem as early as 12 – 18 months, when you notice your child having a hard time speaking. Older children may also notice the tissue getting caught in their lower teeth. A dentist can also help diagnose a potential problem, and may notice the lingual frenulum causing gum recession of the lower teeth. Removal in these instances removes the risk of periodontal trouble and restores eating and speaking functions.
The good news is that frenectomies, when performed with a laser, are quick, fairly painless procedures with next to no bleeding and little recovery time needed. In our office, we perform them in as little as 20 minutes. If you think you or your child might benefit from this procedure, call us and schedule an exam today!