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What is a Frenectomy?

June 26, 2024
What is a Frenectomy?

A frenectomy may sound like a major surgical procedure, but actually it’s a simple one! A frenectomy essentially removes one or both frenae in your mouth. What is a frena? Connective tissues membranes that attach one surface in your mouth to a different surface. 

Here’s are the three different types of frena and what they each do:

  • Lingual frenum - connects the tongue to the bottom part of the mouth with a thin tissue band
  • Labial frenum - attached the lips to the gums in two places, both above your top front teeth and below your bottom front teeth with a connective web
  • Buccal frena - connects your gums to the inside of your cheeks via three tissue strands 

Why Do You Need any Frenectomy Revisions? 

In children, it is usually a lingual frenectomy that’s needed. The condition it remedies is commonly referred to as “tongue tie.”

When it comes to growth and development, tongue placement is everything. When the oral muscles are restricted due to tight frenums it holds back the upper and lower jaws from developing fulling which can result in a smaller, underdeveloped airway. When the tongue is tied down to the floor of the mouth, it is unable to provide the proper positive pressure to the roof of the mouth that is needed for proper growth of the  maxilla (the upper jaw). Without this pressure the maxilla stays narrow and underdeveloped. A narrow maxilla then limits the growth of the mandible, or lower jaw. When both jaws are underdeveloped the result is a narrow airway and a wide variety of sleep disordered breathing signs and symptoms. 

Children who are toddlers can exhibit difficulty in speaking as well as jaw underdevelopment, sleep disordered breathing and other orthodontic issues. Frenectomy restrictions are often labeled as “Teethered Oral Tissues” or TOTs. TOTs can also = make nursing difficult in infants. 

What Issues Can a Frenectomy Fix?

A frenectomy can help with:

  • Correct the position of the mouth and tongue for nursing infants
  • Correct adult and child speech issues
  • Correct eating issues in small children
  • Alleviate Sleep Disordered Breathing and Growth Issues
  • Improve Sleep Apnea scores

What Exactly Is a Frenectomy Procedure?

A frenectomy can be performed right in our office for both adults or children. The frenum itself has no muscles or nerves, it's just a connective tissue, similar to your earlobe. The procedure usually takes 20-30 minutes.You should feel fully recovered within a week! We can use I.V. anesthetic to help keep the appointment comfortable. 

This type of frenectomy involves removing connective tissue under the tongue that connects to the bottom of the mouth. It’s usually necessary due to a thick, short frenum that restricts the capacity of the tongue to move, causing a tongue-tie. 

A tongue-tie can lead to:

  • Feeding difficulties and dental development, particularly for kids  
  • Speech difficulties, especially when it comes to certain sounds that require you to elevate your tongue, such as the sounds for s, z, t, d, l, r.
  • Good saliva management while speaking or eating 
  • Recession of the teeth
  • Orthodontic issues
  • Inability to sweep or lick lips 
  • Underdevelopment of the jaws
  • Sleep Disordered Breathing in Children 
  • Sleep Apnea in Adults 

Another common type of frenectomy is called a maxillary frenectomy. This involves removing a piece of tissue that connects upper gums to front teeth when that tissue is overly large or tight. 

This condition in adults and older children can push front teeth, creating a gap. The gap often creates the need for orthodontic treatments for permanent teeth.

Find Out More About Frenectomies at Oral and Facial Surgery Associates

If you’d like to learn more about frenectomies and how a lingual frenectomy could help you or a member of your family, we’re ready to help. Just reach out to us today! We are waiting to assist you with all your family dentistry needs.

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Oral & Facial Surgery Associates, LLC
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Cincinnati, OH 45249
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