A frenectomy is a procedure that can be done in dentistry to remove a frenum if it is causing harm.
It is a thin band of muscular attachment between two tissues. Frena (plural) are part of the normal oral anatomy, but sometimes the placement of the attachment can cause issues. There are two basic types: lingual (attaching to the tongue) and labial (attaching to the lips). They help to give stability to our lips and tongue.
The most important or notable frenum attachments are located:
This lingual frenum connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth. Sometimes this frenum can be tight or attached to the tip of the tongue in a way that restricts the tongue’s movement. This condition is often called being “tongue-tied” and may affect speech and eating.
Above the upper two front teeth- This labial frenum attaches from the gum above the two front teeth to our upper lip. You can see this frenum by lifting up your upper lip. If this frenum attaches too low between the teeth or if it is oversized, it may cause a diastema. A diastema is a space located between two teeth. Sometimes a frenectomy and/or orthodontics is needed to correct this. This frenum may also cause issues with young children such as difficulty with nursing and difficulty with keeping the teeth clean.
Below the lower two front teeth- This labial frenum attaches from the gum below our two front teeth to our lower lip. If this attachment is too tight, it can pull the gum away from the tooth and cause gingival recession. A frenectomy may be needed to correct this, and depending on the extent of the recession, a gingival graft may also be needed.
Usually, a frenectomy can be done with just local anesthetic, although very young children may need general anesthetic. A frenectomy is a simple and quick procedure with a relatively fast healing time. Stitches may or may not be needed. Aftercare instructions will be given, and some stretching exercises may need to be done to prevent the frenum from reattaching.
Usually, frenum attachments are normal and do not cause harm. A dental professional can determine the need for a frenectomy, so if you or your child are experiencing any difficulties, contact your dental office.