Removing or loosening a band of muscle tissue that is connected to the lip, cheek or floor of the mouth is a surgical procedure called Frenectomy.
The surgery is usually done under local anaesthetic with uneventful healing.
What is a frenectomy used for?
There are people whose tongues are prevented to move freely due to large frenums beneath their tongues also interfering with their speech. The condition of limited tongue mobility is referred to as ankyloglossia or “tongue tie”.
In order for the tongue to move freely again a lingual frenectomy is done by removing the fold of tissue.
Symptoms of ankyloglossia during childhood can be noticed in several periods, like:
as infants, although it is very uncommon, tongue tie will interfere with feeding
at twelve to eighteen months, when your child starts to talk, you may notice that they are having a hard time talking
older children and teenagers may notice that the frenum under their tongues gets stuck in between their teeth
children may notice that they can not stick their tongue out as far as their peers could
your dentist may see that the frenum is pulling the child’s gum tissue away from the lower front teeth and it is already causing periodontal trouble
There are times where the frenum is attached between the two upper front teeth. In order to remove it, a procedure called a labial frenectomy is performed. This condition is usually seen in children after their permanent upper front teeth have erupted in their mouths. It may also be seen earlier. Sometimes it can be spotted before the baby teeth have come in. If the tissue is attached too far down on the gum then space may be created between the two front teeth. Even if an orthodontist closes this gap, the frenum can still push the teeth apart once more. The frenum can also be attached in such a way that the baby teeth can not erupt into the mouth. If this is the case, then you will notice the abnormal frenum sooner.
Adults who are getting dentures may need a frenectomy as the position of the frenum interferes with the way the denture will fit. Sometimes this will happen between the cheek and the gum in the back of the mouth or in the middle of the lower lip and the upper lip.
How do you prepare for a frenectomy?
Before you recommend a frenectomy on your child, your dentist will weigh several factors including the possibility that the condition may eventually correct itself even without surgery. If your child has tongue tie then your child may have to see a speech therapist first and find out if the problem can be corrected. Therapy will include tongue exercises that increase the tongue’s mobility.
How is a frenectomy done?
In order to remove the frenum, your surgeon will use a scalpel or a laser. Note that the laser will minimize bleeding, reduce the need for sutures, and cause less pain although it is slightly more expensive. On the other hand, you may need more sutures will be needed if the scalpel is used. During the operation, people going through a laser frenectomy must remain completely still. Younger children may need general anaesthesia while older children and adults may opt for local anaesthesia with or without nitrous oxide. The whole surgery can be done in a quarter of an hour.
What are the follow-up procedures for a frenectomy?
To completely heal, frenectomies will take a couple of weeks . You may have to take over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, Advil, and Motrin to relieve pain. In order to keep the area clean we recommend you rinse with saltwater, brush carefully around the area and floss as well. If your stitches have to be removed then you must return to the dentist after a week or two, but if your sutures are dissolvable then you do not have to worry.