What Is It And Why Might Your Child Need One?
A frenectomy is a procedure that removes tissue in the mouth called a frenum. A frenum connects two tissues via a muscular attachment. The mouth has two frena that may inhibit normal functioning in some cases. If normal functioning is impeded, a frenectomy may be considered. There are two kinds of frena ( frena is plural for frenum). One type is called the maxillary labial frenum, and it connects the gums to the upper lip just above the area where the two front teeth (upper) reside. The other type of frenum is called the lingual frenum, and it attaches the floor of the mouth with the tongue.
Frenectomy and the Lingual Frenum
The lingual frenum attaches the mouth's floor to the tongue. In some instances this frenum can be present all the way to the tip of the patient's tongue, which results in the patient being "tongue-tied".
A lingual frenum that's restrictive, frequently occurs in pediatric patients. Usually, kids are able to adapt to a lingual frenum that is prominent and speak and eat quite normally. If the lingual frenum runs all the way to the tongue’s tip then a frenectomy may be in order as the only option to achieve normal functioning of the tongue.
Frenectomy and the Maxillary Labial Frenum
This frenum connects the gums to the upper lip above the two front upper teeth.You can easily see this frenum yourself when if you pull your upper lip outward and look beneath it.
When the maxillary labial frenum is prominent, it can result in a gap between the two front upper teeth. This may be disconcerting for parents, but if this frenum isn't painful, it doesn't need to be treated immediately. It is usually best to postpone treatment until the permanent upper teeth are in. Quite often, when the baby teeth are replaced with the permanent teeth, the gap between the teeth will close naturally. If this gap doesn’t close naturally, it can often be closed with braces.
If the teeth start to form a gap again, subsequent to closing the gap with braces, then a frenectomy of the maxillary labial frenum might be required if it is deemed to be the reason for the gap. This type of frenectomy is normally not done until the gap between the teeth is closed, since there may be the formation of scar tissue that makes closing the gap between the teeth impossible.
Our patients who have had a frenectomy experience an improved quality of life. Here are some of the benefits of each type of frenectomy.
- Improves bite
- Oral discomfort is reduced
- Improves appearance by eliminating the gap between front teeth
- Improved self-confidence
- Improves communication and self-expression
- Appetite is improved since the patient may eat properly
A frenectomy is usually recommended in cases where it is clear that the frenum is the cause of pain or an impediment to normal function. Lingual frenectomies are normally a consideration when a child has problems, speaking, swallowing, or eating.
A labial frenectomy may be considered when the child still has baby teeth only in cases where the child is experiencing pain caused by this frenum. If the labial frenum causes a gap between the two front upper teeth, then a frenectomy may be done after the gap between these teeth is closed by braces. If this type of frenectomy is done prior to the time that the gap between these teeth is closed, then the resulting scar tissue may make closing the gap between the teeth impossible, and the child will be left with a permanent gap between the teeth.