A frenectomy is an operation that removes the frenum, a mucous membrane that connects two tissues.
Though there are frenum in many areas of the body, a frenectomy usually refers to an operation that moves a frenum in the mouth. The frenum that connects the inside of the upper lip to the gum above the central incisors is called a labial frenum. Another frenum connects the underside of the tongue to the bottom of the mouth. This is called the lingual frenum.
Frenectomies are performed when the frenum is either painful or interfering with the patient’s ability to speak, swallow or eat. Frena which are attached too closely to the gum line may also make it difficult to practice good oral hygiene. A lingual frenum that is found at the tip of the tongue sometimes interferes with a child’s ability to speak or even a baby as young as a newborn's ability to nurse or drink from a bottle properly.
During a lingual frenectomy, the tongue is numbed and the oral surgeon makes an incision that cuts the frenum and frees the tongue. The incision is then sutured.
An extensive labial frenum can cause a gap between the central incisors, but a frenectomy shouldn’t be considered until the permanent teeth have come in. Often, the eruption of permanent front teeth closes the gap naturally or the gap can be closed with braces.
During a labial frenectomy, the area is numbed and the band is cut, removed, and the surgical wound is sutured. The sutures are removed after about a week.
Frenectomies can be performed with scalpels and electrocautery, but more and more dentists are using CO2 lasers. This treatment is very precise and bloodless because the blood vessels are cauterized. It leaves the surrounding tissue undamaged. There is also less scarring with lasers, and less risk of the burning that can be a complication of electrocautery.
The patient should not eat until the anesthesia wears off, for they risk biting their tongue or their cheek. After that, they should have a soft food diet. They should take the pain medications the doctor prescribed for the next five days or so, even if they are not in too much pain, and rinse with warm salt water. The patient should sleep with their head elevated.
To make an appointment to see if a frenectomy is right for you, please give our office a call us at (208) 855-0080or submit a contact form.