When it comes to taking care of the oral tissues, one of the things that often comes up is a frenectomy. This dental surgical procedure is done to remove a section of the frenulum, that small fold of mucous membrane which joins the floor of the mouth to the midline of the bottom of the tongue. To restore proper function of the oral tissues, a frenectomy is done to help children and adults improve their quality of life. It can be done in a hospital with anesthesia or with a laser using laser light energy instead of a scalpel.
An abnormal frenulum can make eating and speaking painful, and the spaces between teeth may affect one’s self-image when looking into a mirror. If a child’s frenulum is too short and thick, it can interfere with proper tooth brushing which can also hurt the soft tissues and lead to poor oral hygiene. If the movement of the lip is limited, it can lead to constant mouth breathing. In children, chronic mouth breathing can result in crooked teeth, facial deformities, and poor growth, while adults can end up with halitosis and gum disease.
A lingual frenum connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth while a labial frenum connects the inside of the upper lip to center of the gums and jaw between the upper two front teeth. This may interfere with proper eating, talking and oral hygiene care. If you’ve ever heard of being “tongue-tied,” that is what this is! Surgery is done if the frenulum is too high, causing a wide gap between these two teeth called diastema that can lead to gum recession.
Removal of the labial frenum is typically done after the permanent upper front teeth have grown out because sometimes the gap is no longer there once the permanent teeth come in and braces can be used to close the gap. If the labial frenum causes pain in a younger child’s upper lip, however, surgical removal is recommended. The lingual frenectomy will help them eat and speak properly, improving their communication and expression and allowing them to get the nutrients their growing bodies need by enabling proper eating function. A labial frenectomy is usually done on people who need to wear braces or dentures. The surgery helps denture wearers and reduces receding gums.
Whether for a child or an adult, a frenectomy can restore a healthy smile. It can help an infant whose frenulum interferes with breastfeeding, improve one’s bite function and stabilize dentures, reduce oral discomfort, and improve facial appearance by correct tooth placement and restore self-esteem and confidence.
If you are interested in learning more about a possible frenectomy for yourself or your child, we invite you to reach out to our experienced team to get a consultation. We are happy to optimize your oral health for a lifetime of a healthier and happier smile!