The structure of your smile and mouth are unique to you. Yet, while you already know that taking care of your teeth and gums is essential to maintaining good oral health, you may be less familiar with the connecting tissues inside your mouth that keep everything, including your tongue and lips, in position.
These interior connecting tissues are called frenum, and they can sometimes grow and develop in such ways that they hinder instead of help you. When this happens, you, your child, or even your infant may need to undergo a frenectomy procedure.
Why is a Frenectomy Procedure Done?
A frenectomy procedure involves simple, minimally-invasive surgical steps to modify the frenum or connective tissues in the mouth’s interior. These soft tissues serve to attach parts of the mouth to other parts to complete the mouth’s structure. When they become overgrown or overly restrictive and cause unique problems, your dentist can help by performing a frenectomy procedure.
The procedure itself may focus on one of two areas – the labial frenum or the lingual frenum.
The labial frenum is the soft connective tissue that connects the top or bottom lip to that space between the front teeth. There are two particular situations where a frenectomy procedure may be required here.
In instances where this connection is too short, wide, or long, it can prevent you from being able to lift your top lip in normal ways, a condition often referred to as a lip-tie. As a result, speech can be impeded and smiling restricted. Such a situation can also interfere with effective brushing of the front teeth and gum area, increasing your risk of developing tooth decay accumulation and other dental problems.
The labial frenum can also overdevelop. When this happens, a thick band develops, creating a wide gap between the two front teeth. This thick tissue will prohibit the two front teeth from coming together, even with orthodontic therapy. A thick and elongated frenum can also cause a tissue-pull, which can lead to recession and expensive surgical treatment. The frenectomy procedure will remove, shorten, or reshape the excess frenum.
The lingual frenum is the vertical connective tissue that attaches the bottom of your tongue to the floor of your mouth. A frenectomy procedure may be needed if this tissue overdeveloped, causing the commonly referred to condition of being tongue-tied.
The problems of such lingual frenum overdevelopment include difficulty for a baby or young child to breastfeed, bottle feed, or swallow and the risk of developing speech impediments as a child gets older.
In summary, then, a frenectomy procedure is done to:
- Correct Lip Ties
- Correct Tongue Ties, allowing children to eat normally
- Correct or Reduce Developmental Issues in Children, such as speech impediments
- Alleviate oral health issues in both adults and children
How Long Does a Frenectomy Procedure Take?
A frenectomy procedure generally takes between 15 and 30 minutes and can be completed right here in our office. It is considered a surgical procedure, so the first step is to provide you or your child with a mild anesthetic. Once the anesthesia takes effect, a safe soft tissue laser will be used to correct whatever frenulum issue or abnormality you have. In some instances, sutures may be required.
Following the procedure, you will need to follow all the instructions given to you by your dentist to ensure proper healing. Healing and recovery usually occur within 2 to 6 weeks. During this time, you will need to practice careful and gentle oral hygiene, and patients may also be prescribed antibiotics to take to avoid infections or other complications.
When to Consider Undergoing a Frenectomy Procedure
When to consider undergoing a frenectomy procedure will differ for each patient and will depend on the type of issues an abnormal frenum is causing and the age of the patient.
If a baby appears to have problems adequately breastfeeding or feeding through a bottle, there may be a problem with the lingual frenum, which anchors a tongue to the bottom of the mouth. This can become a serious problem in the infant’s development and needs immediate attention. Your dentist will be able to examine your baby’s mouth and diagnose the problem, and also recommend a frenectomy. In addition to correcting the issue, it will also lower the risk of the child developing a speech impediment.
If a child appears to have an abnormal labial frenum, the dentists at Smile Hilliard will closely monitor it’s development along with the child’s growth and permanent teeth eruption. A frenectomy may be needed before, during, or after braces.
As an adult, if you have an abnormal frenum interfering with your smile or if you are experiencing other oral health issues, like recession, consider talking with your dentist about options, including a frenectomy procedure.
Contact Smile Hilliard to Learn More About Frenectomy Procedures and Whether Your or Your Child Will Benefit
Being proactive in how you care for your oral health is helpful in keeping your smile looking its best. Yet, there may be times when certain oral health issues are beyond your control, such as when you or your child have an abnormal frenum. The team at Smile Hilliard can provide you with the information you need to determine if a frenectomy procedure is right for you or someone in your family. Contact our office today and schedule a consultation to find out more.