A frenulum is a small portion of tissue that restricts the movement of a muscle or organ. In cases where a frenulum becomes overgrown or limits normal movement, it may be necessary to remove it surgically using a procedure known as a frenectomy. For an appointment, do not hesitate to call Dentalville Panorama City!
Types of Frenula:
There are three types of frenula located in the mouth.
- The labial frenulum secures the upper lip to the upper gums.
- The lingual frenulum anchors the rear of the tongue to the floor of the mouth.
- Gingival frenula attaches to the gums between two teeth.
While the frenula normally facilitate speech and eating by preventing excessive movement of the lips and tongue, an overgrown frenulum can interfere with normal function. Issues with the labial and lingual frenula are the most common and typically present during the first few years of life during speech and dentition development. Adults who require full dentures may need a frenectomy if one or more of the frenula make it impossible to seat the dentures properly.
Problems with Labial Frenula:
An overgrown labial frenulum can put excessive pressure on the attached gum tissue. This can prevent the teeth from erupting normally, cause gaps between the front teeth, and even result in receding gums and discomfort. Removing the excess tissue can make it easier to restore the normal appearance and function of the front teeth. In most cases, the frenulum is removed once the child's permanent teeth have erupted.
Problems with the Lingual Frenulum:
When the lingual frenulum extends too far toward the tip of the tongue, it results in a condition known as ankyloglossia or being tongue-tied. This may interfere with the child's ability to eat and can cause the gums to recede resulting in periodontal disease. Ankyloglossia is usually diagnosed when a child is between 12 and 18 months of age. If not addressed, it can delay normal speech development.
The Frenectomy Procedure:
A frenectomy is a straightforward procedure and poses minimal risk of complications. Based on the circumstances, the procedure can be performed using either a scalpel or laser. Since the laser technique is less invasive, it results in less blood loss, minimizes discomfort and the need for stitches, and requires less downtime.
For adult patients, a frenectomy is performed using a local anesthetic. Children, however, may require general anesthesia to ensure that they remain still during the procedure. In most cases, a frenectomy can be completed in as little as 20 minutes.
Rinsing with salt water several times a day will help keep the area clean and promote faster healing. It is important to brush gently using a soft-bristled toothbrush to keep from irritating the gums. Any post-operative discomfort can normally be managed with ibuprofen or other over-the-counter pain relievers and should resolve within a couple of days. It is best to avoid hard or crunchy foods for one to three weeks until the area is completely healed.
If you believe that you or your child are candidates for a frenectomy, contact Dr. Monique Glosman today to schedule a consultation.