What Is a Frenectomy?
The frenum (frenulum) is a small fold of tissue in the mouth that is found between the upper two front teeth and under the tongue. The purpose of the frenum is to serve as an additional form of protection for your mouth and teeth; it prevents your lips from moving too far away from your mouth.
A frenectomy is a surgical procedure performed by a qualified oral and maxillofacial surgeon to remove one of these folds of tissue. A frenectomy is done inside the middle of the upper lip (a labial frenectomy) or under the tongue (a lingual frenectomy). Frenectomy procedures are a very common dental procedure and are performed on both children and adults.
Types of Frenectomy Procedures
Labial frenectomy (of the lip) is very common for patients who are undergoing treatment to get a denture to fit properly. Another case for labial frenectomy is when patients have a recession of their gums or a gap between the upper front teeth. A condition that occurs less often is when the frenum inside the lower lip may pull the gum away from the incisors; this has the potential to result in gum problems.
A frenectomy can also be performed to remove the frenulum if it has become attached to gingival tissue between two teeth. Sometimes, a frenectomy is performed when the frenum is too tight, in the wrong place, or otherwise causes problems. If you need a frenectomy, a qualified oral and maxillofacial surgeon should perform the procedure.
Tongue-tie or ankyloglossia is necessary when patients have a tight frenulum under their tongue. This may prevent the tongue from moving freely. When it affects children, tongue-tie may cause problems as a child learns to talk or if an infant is trying to feed.
Before recommending a frenectomy procedure, your pediatric dentist or pediatrician will consider other options first, as if the condition is likely to fix itself eventually without surgery. But if your newborn is having difficulty feeding due to tongue-tie, it is probable that a frenectomy is needed to correct the issue.
If your child has tongue-tie, he or she can be referred to a speech pathologist, and sometimes, this can correct the problem. The speech specialist can determine if your child has a speech impediment and if speech therapy will be a beneficial form of treatment. The type of therapy will consist of specialized exercises to help the tongue move easier.
What Does the Procedure Entail?
A frenectomy procedure can be done in as little as 10 to 15 minutes and is performed either in a hospital operating room under general anaesthesia or the office under local anaesthesia. During an office procedure, sometimes a sedative drug is necessary, which is why it is so important to seek a qualified oral and maxillofacial surgeon, who is specially trained to administer sedatives safely. Infants and young children usually have the procedure in a hospital operating room. A scalpel or laser will be used to remove a frenum. A laser produces less bleeding, but it can’t always be used. In some cases, stitches are needed.
If you are in need of a frenectomy procedure or would like to learn more about your options, please feel free to contact Geelong Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and schedule a consultation appointment with Dr. Christopher McGrath to learn more about this procedure.