A frenectomy is a simple oral surgery that can be performed at any age, but is most common for babies and children. Here, our Edmonton dentists answer the most frequently asked questions about this procedure.
What is a frenum?
A frenum (also called frenulum) is the little piece of tissue that connects your cheeks, tongue or lips to your gum area. You have several frenums in your body, but the ones that typically require a frenectomy are inside your mouth.
Lingual frenum is the tissue that connects the tongue to the bottom of the mouth. When this frenum restricts movement in the mouth, it's referred to as a tongue tie.
Labial frenum is the tissue that connects the lips to the bottom of your upper and lower gums. When this frenum restricts movement in the mouth, it's referred to as a lip tie.
Buccal frenum is the tissue that connects the gums to the inside of the cheeks. When this frenum restricts movement in the mouth, it's referred to as a cheek tie.
What causes a restricted frenum?
A restricted frenum is a natural condition that babies are born with. If you find your child may be tongue, lip or cheek-tied your doctor may recommend you see an experienced dentist to perform a frenectomy.
What is a frenectomy?
A frenectomy is a simple surgical procedure to remove a frenum from the mouth when it is too tight or short and limits movement in the mouth. These frenums have no distinct purpose and removing them causes no loss of function. A typical frenectomy is a safe, common procedure for children and can usually be performed quickly with minimal pain during the first few weeks of birth.
How do I know if my child or I need one?
Your dentist will assess the frenum to determine if the procedure is necessary. Generally, unless it's causing a problem, more natural and noninvasive approaches are considered first. If the procedure is deemed necessary, it is performed at a dental office.
What is the procedure actually like?
The entire procedure typically lasts only 10 to 15 minutes, where you dentist will cut the frenum to free the tongue, lip or cheek. Recovery generally takes about two weeks, during which time the patient may receive pain medication to help with any soreness. Proper aftercare procedures include keeping the area clean and avoiding unnecessary movement of the tongue.
Why not just leave it?
Leaving a baby with a restricted frenum may lead to problems with breast feeding and latching. It could eventually lead to complications later in life, such as speech difficulties and orthodontic problems.