What is a Frenectomy?
A frenectomy or frenotomy is a procedure that consists of releasing the frenum under the tongue or upper lip to allow for better range of motion. There are two connective tissues in the mouth known as frenums. These frenums connect tissue together to provide stable and ample movement of the lip or tongue. Frenectomies are a very common pediatric dental procedure, and can be easily and safely performed here at Junior Smiles.
Why would your infant or child need a Frenectomy?
There are several conditions and combinations of conditions your child may be born with that a frenectomy can solve. Children may be born with tongue-tie (ankyloglossia) and/or a lip-tie, causing restrictions in movement that can cause difficulty with eating, chewing, smiling, breastfeeding – or even more severe problems such as speech and airway difficulties, dental decay or spacing, or digestive issues. During a routine dental exam, we will be able to tell if your child is having issues due to the size and shape of their frenum. We will then discuss options concerning removing or altering the size of this connective tissue.
What is a Lip Tie?
A lip tie occurs when the labial frenulum, the piece of tissue that attaches the upper lip to the gums, causes restriction in your child’s mouth because it is too tight, too thick or both. This may make it more difficult for your child to move their upper lip.
If your child or infant has a moderate to severe lip-tie, they may experience the following issues:
- A formation of a large gap, called a diastema, between your child’s two front teeth
- Heightened risk of dental decay
- Challenges with brushing and flossing
- Vulnerability and risk of trauma to the frenum
- Inability, difficulty or pain with breastfeeding
What is a Tongue-Tie?
Tongue-Tie, or ankyloglossia, is a condition in which your child’s frenulum is either unusually short, thick or tight, causing the bottom of the tongue’s tip to tether to the floor of the mouth.
Normal tongue function is crucial to your child’s development. Proper tongue function contributes to your child’s overall growth and development, as well as allows your child to develop sufficient swallowing patterns, encourages your child’s speech progression, and allows for latching ability during breastfeeding.
If your child or infant has a tongue-tie, they may experience the following issues:
- Pain or clicking in jaw
- An inferior prognathism, or a lower jaw protrusion
- Speech impediments, especially when speaking fast, quietly or loudly
What makes your child a good candidate for a Frenectomy?
Oftentimes, parents will notice that there is a problem with their child if they are unable to smile fully or if they have limited movement of their tongue. For infants, this can make it difficult for them to breastfeed properly and comfortably. For toddlers, it can make it difficult for them to speak, which may be construed as a speech impediment. A frenectomy is a minimally invasive procedure that can be performed right in our office, on both infants and children.
What happens during the procedure for a Frenectomy?
To make the procedure more comfortable, we will use sedation to put your child into partial or full sleep. The frenum is then cut or severed so that movement is restored to either the upper lip or tongue that it was affecting. The surgery takes very little time and can be done in less than an hour in our office. Because the surgery is being done on an infant or child, their body is likely to heal quicker than if it was done in adulthood and the mouth will adapt easily to the frenum being severed or altered in size and shape. We understand that it can be confusing to understand the meaning of a frenectomy and what it can do for your child, so we’re here to answer any questions you may have regarding this procedure.
If you think your child may benefit from a frenectomy or you want to know more about this procedure, call our office and we will be more than happy to further assist you.