Having Frenectomy Surgery
A frenectomy is a surgical procedure that removes or alters the frenum or frenulum, which is an abnormal fold of oral tissue or underlying muscle. The purpose of these folds in the body is to keep the tissues that are attached from moving excessively or too far away. Inside the oral cavity, there are a few such folds which may cause orthodontic or speech problems. The first is located in the middle of the upper lip and called the labial frenum. The lingual frenum or frenulum is the other tissue fold which is located at the midline under the tongue. At either of these locations, the frenum may too short, too thick, or too tight. It may also interfere with proper alignment of the teeth or restrict movement of the tongue.
The labial frenum is attached to the upper lip between your two upper front teeth. A labial frenectomy may be necessary in some patients who are undergoing orthodontic treatment because the frenum is pushing the teeth apart or interfering with proper alignment. In other cases, the labial frenum may need to be removed prior to orthodontic treatment because too much space exists between upper teeth before the eyeteeth have erupted. Removing or contouring the frenum allows the teeth to move together by removing the obstruction. A labial frenectomy may also be recommended for patients who wear dentures. A prominent or enlarged labial frenum can cause dentures to fit poorly or remain loose. The fit and retention of a denture can be significantly improved through a surgical release or frenectomy for these patients.
A Lingual Frenectomy
When the frenulum that attaches the tongue to the floor of the mouth is too short or tight, it can restrict the normal motion of the tongue. In some cases, the frenulum may even attach all the way to the tip of the tongue. The presence of a very restrictive lingual frenulum is also called ankyloglossia, or a tongue-tie. It is a congenital anomaly in some people that can result in speech problems, difficulty eating, hygiene issues, or lead to bite deformities. After a lingual frenulectomy, patients often experience significant relief and gain the ability to mobilize the tongue well beyond what was possible before the procedure.
The Frenectomy Procedure
A frenectomy is a straightforward surgical procedure in which the frenum is excised or contoured. It can be performed with a scalpel or with a laser. It may be performed while the patient is under local anesthesia or with intravenous sedation for complete comfort. A frenectomy is typically recommended when the anatomy in question is causing problems such as pain, interruption of normal function, disruption of orthodontic mechanics, interfering with dentures, or causing difficulty with eating, swallowing, or speech.