A frenum is a fold of tissue in the mouth. Frenums are found between the upper two front teeth, under the tongue, and on the sides of the gums. A frenectomy is a procedure to remove one of these folds of tissue.
A frenum has no purpose and removing one causes no loss of function. A frenectomy is done when a frenum is too tight, in the wrong place or otherwise causes problems.
Some children have a tight frenum under the tongue. This may prevent the tongue from moving freely. The condition is called tongue tie or ankyloglossia.
- Sometimes a frenum is attached between the upper front teeth (incisors). This may cause problems when a child's permanent teeth come in around age 6 or 7. The teeth may not be able to come in, or there may be a gap between them.
- Less often, a frenum inside the lower lip may pull the gum away from the lower front teeth (incisors). This may result in gum problems.
- Tongue tie may interfere with breastfeeding in infants. Later, it can cause problems as a child learns to talk.
Before recommending a frenectomy, your child's dentist or pediatrician will consider several factors. One factor is whether the condition is likely to fix itself eventually without surgery. If your newborn is having difficulty feeding because of tongue tie, then a frenectomy is needed.
Treatment is relatively simple. The procedure may require a little numbing followed by a revision with the laser. Post-operative discomfort is usually limited to a few hours after the numbing has disappeared. There is little damage to adjacent tissue when using the laser, therefore healing is quicker and less post-operative discomfort occurs.
After the treatment is completed, children can immediately begin nursing and mothers have reported immediate relief of pain, extended nursing and improved infant sleeping. Quality of life can be improved by an operation which is simple, brief, and virtually devoid of complications.