You may not be familiar with the term “lingual frenectomy,” but you might have heard of people being tongue-tied. Lingual frenectomy is a minor in-office oral surgery procedure performed by our periodontist to take out a band of tissue. Frena (which are small folds of oral tissue) attaches the bottom of your tongue to the bottom of your mouth. A frenectomy can treat either a tongue tie or lip tie condition.
Tongue-tie is also called ankyloglossia, and it happens in about five percent of newborns. For some reason, tongue-tie is more common in boys than girls. A lingual frenectomy helps the tongue have a bigger range of motion. A maxillary frenectomy gives the upper lip the additional mobility it needs.
Lingual frenectomy: Your lingual frenum can be too short, causing problems by restricting your tongue’s movement when trying to speak, eat, or swallow (that’s where the term tongue-tied comes from). Try touching your tongue to your palate (the roof of your mouth), so you can see how far your frenulum stretches under your tongue.
Maxillary frenectomy: Frena can also be found inside your upper or lower lip and can attach your cheeks to your gums. With the help of a frenectomy, this tissue can be released altogether or just loosened for better mobility. Babies often have this condition, making it hard to nurse, bottle feed, and talk as they grow. This oral surgery treatment is typically done very quickly (in minutes) and lessens the frenum’s size so the tongue can freely move around without being restricted.
A lingual frenectomy can be done in a baby’s first few weeks or for children and adults later in life. If left uncorrected, they can experience issues with their growing smile that cause problems with their orthodontia and even when trying to clean their teeth during their daily oral hygiene routine.
It is common to perform a frenectomy before your child undergoes orthodontic treatment if their lower jaw is being pushed out or they can’t lift the tongue. That is because, should the frenum reside close to their gums, your child’s spacing in the two front teeth can be impacted. Not only will it be noticeable, but this extra spacing in those teeth can allow food particles to become trapped. It can make it hard to clean near the gumline and set the way for gum disease (gingivitis).
What can you expect with a frenectomy?
Whether you or your child needs a frenectomy, you will first need to visit our periodontist. You will have an evaluation and schedule a frenectomy if need be. The face is held still during the procedure, and a topical anesthetic will be applied before so the area will feel numb. The frenum is clipped with either a surgical scissor, scalpel or laser.
Our periodontist may want to finish the procedure with a few stitches. It may depend on the complexity of the lip tie. This treatment only takes a few minutes from beginning to end. Recovery is also quick, with only a few days of discomfort, and then you will have a follow-up appointment.
Whether you or your child needs to have a frenectomy performed, we welcome you to give us a call to learn more. Our periodontist often performs frenectomies to improve one’s oral function. We look forward to helping you with all of your periodontal needs. Remember, a healthy smile begins with healthy oral tissues (including your gums), so please call today!