What is a frenectomy?
A frenectomy is simply the removal, or repositioning of a frenum. A frenum is a muscular attachment between two tissues that prevents tissues from moving too far. There are three frena within your mouth that may obstruct function, cause recession, or prohibit your orthodontist from completing your recommended orthodontic therapy. These frena are called the maxillary labial frenum (which connects the inside of your upper lip to your gums just above your upper two front teeth), mandibular labial frenum (which connects the inside of your lower lip to your gums just below your lower two front teeth), and the lingual frenum (which connects your tongue to the floor of the mouth). The removal of the frenulum does not cause any adverse effects to the lip and mouth, nor changes in your appearance.
Maxillary Labial Frenectomy
A prominent maxillary labial frenum may cause a large gap to occur between the upper two front teeth. Sometimes the frenum may cause pain on the upper lip and gums or prevent your orthodontist from closing this gap with braces. In these cases, it is recommended that a frenectomy be performed. Below is a picture of how a maxillary labial frenectomy looks before and after surgery.
A maxillary anterior frenectomy is recommended when a muscle attachment contributes to tooth separation or restricted lip movement. An option to correct this condition is using a laser to release the muscle constriction allowing the lip adequate movement and orthodontic repositioning to close the space.
Mandibular Labial Frenectomy
A prominent or malpositioned mandibular frenum may cause the gum tissue on the lower two front teeth to become inflamed. Sometimes the frenum may cause pain on the lower lip and gums and/or prevent your orthodontist from closing this gap with braces. In these cases, it is recommended that a frenectomy be performed. To the right is a picture of a frenum that requires repositioning to prevent further damage to the gum tissue on the front of the lower incisors.
The lingual frenum connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth. In some cases, the lingual frenum can extend toward the tip of the tongue, causing the affected person to be “tongue-tied.” If this occurs, it may contribute to speech problems and trouble eating and a frenectomy may be recommended.
An individuals tongue movement can be restricted by a lingual muscle attachment, adversely affecting speech or creating spacing between teeth. An option to correct this condition is using a laser to release the muscle constriction, allowing the tongue to have proper movement.
Does a frenectomy hurt?
A frenectomy is a simple procedure where, after numbed, a small incision is made that frees the frenal attachment. Dissolving stitches will be placed to help the tissue heal. This area will be tender for 4-5 days but should not prevent your child your any school related activities. Following a lingual frenectomy, it may be sore to talk for a few days, but this will quickly resolve as the area continues to heal.