What is a Frenectomy?
A frenectomy is a surgical procedure that eliminates the presence of a frenum in the mouth. A frenum is a muscular tissue found inside of the mouth (cheeks, lips and gums). There are three kinds of frenum:
- Lingual frenum – The vertical band of thin tissue that connects the tongue to the bottom of the mouth
- Labial frenum – The connective webbing that attaches the lips to the gum above the top two front teeth and below the bottom two front teeth
- Buccal Frena – The thin strands of tissue that connect the gums to the insides of the cheeks
The lingual frenum connects the bottom of the tongue to the floor of the mouth. When this frenum extends to the tip of the tongue it can restrict the movement of the tongue, often called 'tongue-tied'.
A lingual frenectomy is performed if the frenum is preventing a patient from eating and speaking properly. The goal is to free the tongue to allow proper speech, swallowing and movement.
Lingual frenectomies are also common procedures for babies, when the lingual frenum is impairing their ability to breastfeed.
The labial frenum connects the gums to the inside of the upper lip. If it is too wide or long, this frenum may attach to the centre of the upper lip and between the upper two front teeth, extending to the front of the roof of the mouth.
A labial frenectomy is performed if the frenum is creating space between the two front teeth or pulling the gums off the bone. The goal is to free the upper lip to eliminate the gap between the two upper front teeth and reduce gum recession
The evaluation is performed and the diagnosis is given by the oral surgeon. Usually, initially more non-invasive approaches are recommended unless the existing frenum is causing a problem with feeding, such as breastfeeding in infants and toddlers, or is complicating speech. If those are not options, the surgery is performed to correct the issue. The procedure only lasts 10-15 minutes and full recovery is expected within two weeks. The oral surgeon will discuss after care requirements and will usually prescribe pain medication while the patient recovers.