What is a Frenectomy and When are they Needed?

What is a frenectomy? It is a common procedure that can make a world of difference for you or your child. The name comes from the word “frenum”. A frenum is a band of tissue in your mouth. It connects your lips to your gums and your tongue to the floor of your mouth.

But short or thick frenums can cause speech, eating, and breastfeeding issues. Frenectomies correct these issues by cutting or modifying them.

Thankfully, these procedures are quick and easy to recover from. They’re usually performed on infants and children, because they show symptoms early on. However, frenectomies can be performed on adults. They may not have been treated as children, or they may simply be noticing symptoms later on – like speech difficulties or tooth gaps.

How do I know when to get a frenectomy?

There are a few tell-tale signs you or your child may need a frenectomy. In babies, you’ll notice complications latching on during breastfeeding. In children or adults, a common sign is trouble talking or swallowing. A large frenum can also push the front teeth apart, so you may notice a gap in permanent teeth. 

These symptoms can be narrowed down to either a tongue-tie and a lip-tie.

  • A tongue-tie is when the tongue can’t move freely. Typically, the tongue should be able to reach the roof of the mouth and extend beyond the bottom lip. It can be limited when a band of tissue connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth.
  • A lip-tie is when it’s difficult to move the lip. This occurs when a tight or short band of tissue is connecting the lip to the gums. It can make it hard to curl or flare out the lips.

There’s no known cause of tongue-ties or lip-ties. It’s believed to happen because of genetics.

What happens during a frenectomy?

There are two types of frenectomies: lingual and maxillary. A lingual frenectomy corrects tongue-ties, while a maxillary frenectomy corrects lip-ties. 

Both procedures only take about 30 minutes or less. Your healthcare provider may numb the area. Then, they’ll use scissors or a scalpel to remove or adjust the frenum. 

Once they’re done, they may use stitches to close the incision. 

How long does recovery take?

Frenectomy recovery is usually quick and easy. Infants can usually feed immediately after. For adults, a full recovery typically takes three to five days. 

You’ll need to stick to soft foods for a few days and take any painkillers you’re prescribed. But you can return to work and any other activities right away.

Do you think you or your baby may need a frenectomy? Reach out to Greenville Oral Surgery to learn more.

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