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Your frenum (or frenulum) is a tiny piece of tissue that attaches your lip or tongue to your mouth. But that tiny piece of tissue can cause big problems for some children and adults. Tongue and lip ties can affect eating, speaking and oral health. Fortunately, a frenectomy can correct these problems, and most family dentists can perform the procedure quickly and safely right in the office.
We have frena (the plural of frenum) connecting our lips to our gums on both the top and bottom. A frenum also connects our tongue to the bottom of our mouth. When a frenum is too short, too tight or extends too far down on the gums, it can lead to a tongue or lip tie. A frenectomy is an oral surgery to remove or reduce the frenum and restore movement to the lips or tongue. The two types of oral frenectomies are:
- A labial (lip) frenectomy removes the band of tissue that connects your gums to your upper lip.
- A lingual (tongue) frenectomy removes the tissue that connects the underside of your tongue to the bottom of your mouth.
When Is A Frenectomy Needed?
Not every tongue or lip tie requires a frenectomy. In some cases, disruption is minimal, and a child will grow out of the problem. However, tongue and lip ties can cause breastfeeding challenges in infants and lead to speech challenges in young children. Providers perform most frenectomies on infants. However, tongue and lip ties can also cause problems for older children and adults. Many adults spend years compensating for tongue and lip ties, which can cause other oral health problems. Oral healthcare providers routinely do frenectomies on older patients.
Some of the reasons we recommend frenectomies include:
- A lip tie can pull your gums away from your teeth, creating a gap between the top front teeth.
- Gum movement because of a lip tie can expose tooth roots and cause damage to the teeth.
- Tongue and lip ties can cause other problems, including
- Difficulty swallowing or chewing for babies and adults.
- Speech challenges and delays.
- Snoring and mouth breathing.
- Restricting movement in your lip or tongue.
Who Can Do A Frenectomy?
An oral surgeon, family dentist, or pediatrician can perform a frenectomy right in their office. The procedure is usually done under local anesthetic, although some families opt for sedation dentistry for squirmy toddlers. Many patients and parents are surprised at how quick and painless the procedure is. Healing time is usually minimal, especially for infants. Adults may take a little longer to heal, but few complications are reported. Most frenectomies are still done by traditional surgery using a scalpel. However, laser frenectomies are becoming increasingly common. Laser frenectomies offer a clean cut with a reduced chance of scarring and a faster healing time.
Dr. Robert Hall has decades of experience providing excellent oral healthcare for patients of all ages, including babies, children, and adults. Welcoming entire families is a specialty at Hall Family Dentistry. Whether you have a newborn with nursing issues or have lived with a tongue or lip tie for years and are finally ready to take action, Dr. Hall can diagnose a tongue or lip tie and perform a safe, speedy frenectomy right in the comfort of our office.