A frenectomy or frenuloplasty is a procedures used to remove strong bands of tissue that connect your gums to your lip or tongue.
Frenums can be detrimental and can:
1) Pull on the gums creating recession
2) Push the teeth apart creating large spaces
3) Create tongue and lip ties (ankyloglossia) lead to breastfeeding problems, difficulties with chewing and even speech issues later in life.
During a frenectomy procedure, your dentist will remove and reposition these bands of tissue to release the tongue and/or lip, and restore their proper position.
Tongue ties occur in 4-11% of newborns.
First, a consultation is necessary to determine the severity of the frenum. Dr. Quintero will examine your mouth for signs of tongue and lip ties, and determine whether or not a frenectomy is the best option.
Oral sedation or Nitrous Oxide are offered in conjunction with anesthetic prior to starting the procedure to ensure you or your child feels absolutely no pain or discomfort throughout.
Dr. Quintero will discuss available options during the consultation. The frenulum for a baby can be snipped in seconds whereas an adolescent, teen or adult may require a more complex technique to reposition and eliminate the frenum. Lasers can also be utilized which can minimize bleeding and discomfort.
With a laser frenectomy, there is no need for stitches or sutures. Proper aftercare includes cleaning the treatment site at least twice per day. Dr. Quintero may also recommend tongue or lip stretches to ensure that the frenulum heals properly and does not reattach.
A lingual frenectomy is used to treat tongue ties. Tongue ties, also called “ankyloglossia,” occur when the lingual frenulum is overdeveloped. The lingual frenulum is the band of tissue that connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth.
When the lingual frenulum is overdeveloped, your child may not be able to move their tongue properly, leading to issues with breastfeeding, chewing, and proper speech. In a lingual frenectomy, this band is snipped to ensure the tongue can move freely.
A labial frenectomy is performed to remove lip ties or prevent recession. The frenulum between the gums and the lip can become overdeveloped, causing issues with proper lip movement, and even causing diastema (a gap between the front teeth). In this procedure, the frenulum will be removed and repositioned to restore proper movement of the lips, and restore your oral health.
Ankyloglossia, or tongue tie, is more common in boys than in girls.
Tongue and lip ties are collectively known as “tethered oral tissues” or TOTs. They occur when the bands of tissue that connect the tongue or the lips to the mouth become overdeveloped to the point that proper mouth movement is restricted.
They are uncommon in infants and toddlers, and sometimes do not need treatment. Minor tongue and lip ties may not cause any feeding problems, or contribute to speech impediments.
However, serious tongue and lip ties can make it hard for your child to breastfeed or use a bottle properly, resulting in poor feeding and inadequate nutrition, or contribute to speech impediments. If you think that your child is having trouble feeding or speaking because of tongue or lip ties, please contact us and your pediatrician right away.
Feeding problems are the most common signs of tongue and lip ties. Your child’s lips and tongue need to be able to move properly to latch onto the nipple and stimulate it for proper feeding. If they seem to be having trouble making a proper seal, milk dribbles out from their mouth while feeding, or they frequently stop and start feeding, they may be having latching issues due to tongue or lip ties.
You can also look for visual signs of tongue and lip ties. For the lips, you can fold back your child’s upper lip and look at the frenulum. If it is difficult to lift the lip or it seems like your baby is unable to move their upper lip on their own, they may have a lip tie.
Signs of tongue ties include an inability for your child to stick their tongue out past their front teeth, or problems moving the tongue from side to side. Tongue ties can also be identified visually. A common sign of tongue ties is a “heart-shaped” tongue. When your child sticks their tongue out, the restriction caused by the tongue tie may cause it to look “notched” or heart-shaped, instead of appearing as a smooth “U” shape.
Frenectomies are usually identified in infants and young children, but older kids, teenagers, and even adults my require a frenectomy/frenuloplasty to assist with orthodontics and braces or root recession.
Not at all. Your child’s mouth will be completely numb throughout the procedure, and we use special tools at our office to eliminate pain and discomfort. With laser dentistry, if applicable, your child will experience minimal bleeding, and they will be able to recover from tongue or lip tie treatment quickly and with low levels of post-operative discomfort.
A frenectomy will typically be covered by dental insurance, so you or your child can get the care needed. Insurance plans vary, so make sure you consult with your dental insurance company to make sure you are covered for treatment.
To care for the surgical site, you will need to clean the treatment area twice a day to prevent infection and keep it healthy. Dr. Quintero may also recommend some stretches for the tongue and/or lips. These stretches will help ensure that when the frenulum heals, it will not reattach and restrict your child’s oral range of motion. Follow the instructions given to you and make sure you regularly perform all stretches recommended to you by your Dr. Quintero.
Tongue and lip ties are hereditary.