Do you know what a frenectomy is? It is a simple surgical treatment where our periodontist, Dr. Shelby Nelson, removes the “frena” in your mouth to modify the binding tissues in the mouth. The “frenum” is the small fold of connective tissue in your mouth that attaches one surface to another. It often refers to oral procedures correcting lip ties or tongue ties in babies as well. A frenectomy can help adults when their strong oral tissues cause problems over time.
Types of Frena
- Lingual frenum: This is a vertical strip of thin oral tissue connecting your tongue to the bottom of your mouth. You can see and feel it when you lift the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth. If your lingual frenum is extremely short (called a tongue-tie), it will keep you from eating, drinking, and speaking correctly. For infants, a frenectomy increases their range of motion. Then they can eat and drink properly and improve their speech development as they grow.
- Labial frenum: This connective tissue attaches your lips to the gums over your top two front teeth and the bottom two front teeth. Also called a maxillary frenectomy, this treatment fixes problems with the soft tissue connecting your top lip to your upper gum. You can see this tissue when you lift your upper lip. If you have short labial frenums, you might be unable to lift your upper lip (a lip tie). Getting this corrected can help you keep your front teeth cleaner, helping avoid oral issues like gum disease. Freely moving your upper lip will also help you smile and speak more easily.
- Buccal frenum: This is a thin strip of oral tissue attaching the gums to the insides of your cheeks that is abnormally tight. It can lead to gum recession and excessive fascial tension around the mouth, making it harder for you to move your lips.
Symptoms Relieved by a Frenectomy in Adults
- Crowding of lower teeth
- Food aversion
- GI issues
- Incomplete orthodontics
- Neck/shoulder pain
- Poor-fitting dentures
- Receding gums
- Sleep apnea
- Speech impediments (lisping, poor enunciation)
- TMJ issues
Diagnosis and Treatment
When the frenums are too big, our periodontist can use a frenectomy to make them smaller. It can give your tongue more room to move, allowing for better and easier speech and swallowing or closing unwanted space between your front teeth. Ideally, doctors can diagnose frenum issues early and take care of the problem with a frenectomy. For example, a pediatrician can diagnose this problem when an infant has trouble breastfeeding. Barring that, people can experience problems with the frenum as they grow and need treatment for it as an adult.
One instance that may call for a frenectomy is when you have orthodontic treatment and need to have your tongue repositioned. That will help make room as your jaw grows and shifts. Or perhaps your orthodontist recommends a frenectomy to close the gap between your front teeth. Once your orthodontic treatment is complete, your orthodontist may recommend having a frenectomy so that your new jaw and teeth positions stay properly aligned moving forward.
What You Can Expect During Your Frenectomy
The procedure is simple and typically only takes around fifteen minutes to complete. You will be lying down in the chair with your face looking up. We will apply a numbing agent to eliminate any potential discomfort. Using a special instrument, Dr. Shelby Nelson will release the tissue. In many cases, there are no required stitches. Before you know it, the treatment is complete. Just follow our after-care instructions. We welcome your questions about frenectomies. Please call our office if you need help or want to learn more about what we do!