A frenectomy (also called a frenulectomy) is simply the cutting of connective tissue (called the frenulum) located under the tongue or behind the upper lip. These quick surgeries are commonly referred to as "lingual" and "labial" frenectomies, respectivley.
A person who requires a lingual frenectomy is often said to be "tongue-tied" due to having a short, thick frenulum that connects the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth, but limits its capacity to move. Being tongue-tied can make it difficult for infants to breastfeed; thus, most frenectomies in our office are performed on babies. Left untreated, however, a tongue-tie can impact speech and eating in children and adults. Patients often try to compensate for their lack of tongue mobility by changing their jaw position, which can then require orthodontic treatment down the road.
A person who requires a labial frenectomy is often said to be "lip-tied" due to having a short, thick frenulum that connects the upper lip to the front of the gums. Everyone has this tissue, but most issues arise when the labial frenulum is excessively large or tight in infants. Newborns who cannot flare or curl out their lips have problems latching onto the breast while breastfeeding. However, in older children, a large labial frenulum can push the front teeth apart, creating a gap between them and necessitating orthodontic treatment once their permanent teeth come in.
What do frenectomies do?
Enable babies to breastfeed without complications
Prevent future orthodontic problems
Potentially assist with speech development
What can I expect?
A lactation specialist or pediatrician may refer your child to Dr. Davis for a consultation and examination. Typically, Dr. Davis will perform the cutting procedure at your child's initial appointment if he determines that it is necessary. Frenectomies generally cause very little bleeding and minimal discomfort, making them ideal for babies and young children. The healing process for frenectomies is also quick and uncomplicated, requiring minimal intervention at home. Quite often, babies who were having difficulty breastfeeding are able to nurse right away after Dr. Davis completes their frenectomies, which is a tremendous relief to worried and frustrated parents. As a final note: frenectomies will be billed to medical insurance, not to dental insurance, so please remember to bring a copy of the appropriate insurance card.