What is a Frenectomy and When is it Needed? Your Family & General Dentist in Portland, OR Explains
Updated: Dec 1, 2022
You’ve probably heard the term “tongue-tied” before, meaning to have difficulty expressing oneself verbally. But here’s a fun fact: a tongue tie is actually a congenital condition, called ankyloglossia, in which the muscular tissue that connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth is unusually thick and/or short.
People can be born with a tongue tie (lingual frenulum) that can cause difficulty speaking, eating, or even swallowing in severe cases. People can also be born with a lip tie (labial frenulum) that can limit lip movement, interfere with the proper growth and spacing of the two front teeth, and may result in gum recession.
What is a Frenectomy?
A frenectomy (also called frenulectomy) is a simple surgical procedure in which the labial or lingual frenulum is removed or modified. A frenectomy can be performed quickly, safely and with minimal pain and healing time, for young children and adults alike.
There are two main types of oral frenectomies: lingual and labial.
Lingual Frenectomy: Corrects tongue ties, and involves the removal or modification of the band of connective tissue that anchors the bottom of the tongue to the floor of the mouth.
Labial Frenectomy: Sometimes called a maxillary frenectomy, this procedure corrects lip ties and involves the removal or modification of the band of tissue that connects the inside of your lip to your gums. Upper lip frenectomies are more common than lower lip frenectomies.
Both lingual and labial frenectomies are simple, largely painless, and typically take 30 minutes or less. Frenectomies can be performed simply and quickly using either a scalpel, surgical scissors, or lasers. Your doctor may use a local anesthetic to numb the area, and in some cases sutures are needed to close the incision. Babies whose tongue or lip ties cause difficulty breastfeeding can have a frenectomy performed as soon as a few weeks after birth.
Postoperative care and recovery after a frenectomy is quite simple and straightforward. Depending on the case and age of the patient, we may recommend mouth stretches, an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory (such as ibuprofen or other NSAID), and we may prescribe an oral antibiotic.
If the frenectomy is performed on a baby, we will instruct the parents to keep their child’s mouth clean - a simple enough task for an infant on an all-liquid diet. For adults, we recommend limiting the types of foods and drink you consume for a few days post-surgery, and to brush and floss very gently around the affected area.
The area should begin to heal within a day or two. You should be able to resume all your normal activities after about a week, at which point the site should be about 50% healed. A follow up appointment is typically scheduled for around 3 weeks post surgery, at which point the site should be about 90% healed.
Have any questions about a frenectomy or other oral surgery? Feel free to contact us at 503-255-2406 and we will be happy to help!
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