What is a Frenectomy?
A frenum or frenulum is a small “band” of tissue located in the mouth: under the tongue, inside the upper lip, inside the lower lip and connecting the tongue, cheek or lip to the gums. A frenectomy is a simple surgical procedure to release these bands. An oral and maxillofacial surgeon (OMS) typically performs a frenectomy to increase the range of motion of the tongue (removing the lingual frenum) or to assist closing a gap in a patient’s upper front teeth (removing the labial frenum). If untreated, excessive frena may allow gum tissue to be pulled away from adjacent teeth. This can lead to root exposure and periodontal problems. Frenectomies can be performed via scalpel, electrosurgery or laser surgery.
The lingual frenum connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth and lower jaw. The specific position of the lingual frenal attachment varies from person to person. This variation means some people will have a lingual frenum that restricts the movement of the tongue. This is sometimes referred to as being “tongue-tied.” Infants with this condition can have difficulty with nursing and, eventually, with speaking. A lingual frenectomy is a quick procedure that reduces the size of the frenum, allowing the tongue to move freely. If restricted tongue movement is discovered early, a frenectomy can be performed as early as the first few weeks after birth.
The labial frenum normally connects the upper and lower lips to the gum area near the front teeth. If the labial frenum connects closer to the front teeth within the gum tissue, it can create spacing issues and hygiene problems. Although many parents and patients worry about the gap for cosmetic reasons, extra space between the teeth can make it easier for food to become stuck and contribute to gingivitis. If a lower labial frenum attachment causes excess tension, it may result in root exposure and gum problems in the affected teeth. Labial frenectomies are simple procedures that can be performed at any age after the permanent teeth have erupted.
Learn More from an OMS
Although a labial or lingual frenectomy is a common procedure, it is oral surgery and should still be performed by a qualified professional. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are the experts in face, mouth and jaw surgery – find an OMS nearby.