A frenectomy is a procedure that severs connective body tissue, or frenum/frenulum (plural: frena), from the body. The most common form of a frenectomy is circumcision in newborn children, but the name refers to a common dental procedure as well. Frena in the mouth connects the cheeks to the gums and tongue, and if this connective tissue is underextended then it can cause several oral issues and can impact the patient's quality of life.
At Blue Periodontics, our experienced team of dentists can help identify if your child might need a frenectomy. While not all children with underextended frena need a frenectomy, they typically need one if it affects their ability to close their mouth, speak, or eat correctly. If your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, then continue reading to find out more information on what a frenectomy entails.
What is a Frenum/Frenulum?
The terms frenum and frenulum are interchangeable, and they refer to a fold or ridge in the skin that acts as connective tissue and prevents the attached organ or tissue from moving too far. In terms of the oral frenulum, there are three main types of these tissues in the mouth.
The first is called the lingual frenum. The lingual frenum is the ridge of tissue under your tongue that you can see when you lift your tongue to the roof of your mouth. This piece of tissue connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth. If this piece of tissue is too short, then it may result in the patient having difficulty speaking because they cannot move their tongue into the correct positions for proper enunciation.
The second main type of frenum is called the labial frenum. This is the connective tissue that connects the top of your front gum line to the inside of your upper lip, right in the center. If you lift your tongue and place it reaching over your two front teeth, then you can feel this connective ridge.
If this frenum is too short, then it can result in gaps in the two front teeth, issues breastfeeding, and problems with speech. Non-invasive procedures to fix issues with this are usually tried first, as a short labial frenum does not always result in significant issues. So, your dentist may want to wait until the adult teeth come in unless they are experiencing severe problems with basic oral functions.
The last type of frenum is buccal frenum, which are thin ridges of connective tissue attaching the gums to the inside of the cheeks. These normally do not cause issues, but they can result in similar problems as the previous two frena if they are severely underextended.
What Takes Place During a Frenectomy?
A frenectomy is a very quick procedure, usually just involving the snipping of the frenum that is too short to allow a range of movement. A local anesthetic is applied, the frenum is snipped, and if necessary, stitches will be used to keep the wound closed. Recovery time is around two weeks and patients will be asked to refrain from moving the affected parts of the mouth too much.
A frenectomy is a simple and common procedure that can greatly improve the patient’s quality of life. If you or your child do not have a full range of motion of your tongue or lips, call Blue Periodontics at (970) 678-3473 to schedule an appointment and set up an initial examination.