There is a frenulum that attaches your upper lip to the gums, while another connects the lower lip to the gums. A frenulum that is too short or thick, will cause problems in speech patterns and tooth misalignment. In infants, a shortened frenulum underneath the tongue and occasionally the lip will inhibit efficient breastfeeding. "Tongue tied " is a common phrase to describe this attachment when it restricts the use of the tongue; repair can be done with a soft tissue laser to retore function. Frenulums in other areas can also gum recession on individual teeth. Diastemas or "gaps" in the teeth (often between the upper front two teeth) are sometimes exacerbated by frenulums that are attached too close to the teeth causing the teeth to spread apart. Diastemas caused by a large frenulum attachments closed by orthodontics or crowns alone will often lead to a reversal of the treatment and the space will reform unless the frenulum attachment is addressed. When the frenulum disrupts movement, growth, or development, corrective action is necessary to resolve the situation. Significant restrictions can impede proper enunciation of words and frenectomies in conjuction with speech therapy can be a great aid. Tongue ties may also restrict the airway in children into adulthood and does contribute to sleep apnea.
A frenectomy is a minor surgical procedure that can be performed by scalpel or laser. We use a soft tissue laser in our office to reduce trauma to the tissues in a very short treatment. Using a laser causes minimal bleeding and does not require stitches. A laser also results in less postoperative discomfort and a shorter healing time. Infants often do not require any anesthesia for the procedure and children/adults have the procedure performed using local anesthesia. If your child needs a frenectomy, there is nothing to worry about. The procedure is very successful.