Frenectomy. Not one of the most common dental terms used, however a frenectomy is performed often on adults, children and babies for many different reasons in a general or pediatric dental office.

So, what is a frenectomy you might be wondering. A frenectomy is a surgical procedure that is typically performed under local anesthetic that removes or loosens bands of tissue (frena) that is connected to the lip, cheek or floor of a patient's mouth. The frenectomy increases the movement of the tongue or can close a gap between the upper front teeth. Depending on the dentist performing the procedure, frenectomies are done via scalpel, electrosurgery, laser, or a combo of the three.

There are two different types of frenectomies, a lingual frenectomy and a labial frenectomy. One type of frenectomy is more of a medical necessity while the other is more of a cosmetic change. If not treated, both types of frenectomies can affect the fitting of dentures, or can cause food to get stuck in between teeth causing gingivitis. Untreated frenectomies can also cause speech impediments in children and adults.

The frenectomy procedure itself takes just a few minutes to perform. An older patient might only use a localized anesthetic, while infants and toddlers may also be sedated for the short procedure. The doctor can then make a tiny snip in the frenum using a scalpel or a soft tissue laser.

The lingual frenum connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth and varies in size and shape from person to person. Because of these differences, some people's frenum will cause limited movement of their tongue. This is called "tongue-tied". Often, a lingual frenectomy will be done during infancy due to the fact that babies can have difficulty nursing and then later on speaking if not done.

A labial frenum is what connects your upper lip to the gum located by your front teeth. This can cause possible orthodontic and hygiene issues if not taken care of. When the frenum dips too far past the gum line, it can affect the spacing and even the growth of the front two teeth.

After a frenectomy is performed on a patient, there is usually little to no downtime, no pain or swelling. A little bit of bleeding is completely normal. If a patient does experience symptoms, they are usually mild. In addition, the patient can go on having normal function of their tongues and lips. Most patients feel like the procedure had never happened. Other patients have been said to have a feeling similar to a pizza burn. After a few weeks, the patient is fully healed.

Just like everything else in life, there are always risks to frenectomies - however they are very uncommon with this procedure. Besides pain, swelling and bleeding, there is always the chance of infection. Possible reactions to the general anesthetic is also a possibility. And, in an even rarer situation, a frenectomy could grow back, which would then need to be redone surgically.

If you are thinking that you or a loved one would benefit from a frenectomy, give Dr Fattahi and his team at Hamilton Dental Group a call!

The muscles of the cheeks and lips are attached to the gums and tissue of the mouth by a piece of soft tissue called a frenum. Sometimes a frenum can be attached too high on the gums causing either recession or spaces between teeth.

In addition, there is another frenum under the tongue. If this frenum is attached too close to the end of the tongue it can adversely affect swallowing and speech. Sometimes this is referred to as being "tongue-tied".

A Frenectomy is a simple procedure where either part or all of the frenum in question is removed in order to return a healthy balance to the mouth.