A frenectomy is a minor surgical procedure that involves cutting the frenum in the mouth. The frenum is bands of tissue and there are three of them in your mouth. There are two different types of frenectomies: lingual and labial.

The Procedure

During both procedures, we will make a small incision in the frenulum with either a laser or a scalpel. Then, a few stitches will be put in place to close the incision. Local anesthesia is used to keep the patient comfortable. The entire procedure is over in a matter of minutes and discomfort is usually gone in just a few days. Full recovery can be expected within about two weeks.

Lingual Frenectomy

A lingual frenectomy is often needed when a child is considered “tongue-tied”. This condition, formerly known as “ankyloglossia”, means that a patient was born with a shortened frenulum, restricting the tongue’s range of motion. In infancy, it can affect a child’s ability to nurse or drink from a bottle. A baby with a shortened frenulum may have difficulty latching on, making it hard to get the proper nourishment. If left untreated, a young child may have difficulty with speech and/or eating. In extreme cases, swallowing may be uncomfortable or painful. There can also be pain or protrusion of the jaw.

Labial Frenectomy

A labial frenectomy may be necessary when a sizable gap is formed between the front two teeth. It is possible that this gap will close with the formation of permanent teeth. Therefore, dentists will typically wait until a patient has permanent front teeth before deciding if this procedure is necessary. However, if the gap is causing pain or discomfort, it may be necessary to perform a frenectomy before permanent teeth erupt. This procedure will not only help cosmetically but will also help a child’s front teeth function properly. If untreated, it can be hard for a child to brush and floss properly and can lead to tooth decay.

Frenectomies can be performed using either a scalpel or a CO2 laser. Use of a laser requires the patient to sit perfectly still during the procedure, but the benefits are significant. Light energy is used to vaporize the soft tissue, promoting regeneration of new healthy tissue. When using a laser, there is significantly less bleeding and no need for additional sutures. In addition, the laser sterilizes the point of contact, lessening the risk of infection drastically. There is also a faster recovery time in comparison to a traditional scalpel frenectomy.