The frenum, aka frenulum, is tissue that connects the tongue, lips, and cheeks to the gum area of your mouth. The “lingual frenum” connects the tongue to the floor of your mouth. Another frenum attaches the gums to the upper lip just above the two front teeth, and it is called the “maxillary labial frenum.” You may be able to feel it when you move your tongue between your upper lip and your gums. If the frenum under the tongue or under the upper lip restricts movement, the result is tongue-tie or lip-tie.
Neither the frenum under your tongue nor under your upper lip has a distinct purpose, and there is no loss of function to remove these tethered oral tissues (TOTs). Anterior tongue-tie, posterior tongue-tie, and lip-tie are among the reasons a frenum might need to be removed, in which case a procedure called a “frenectomy” is performed. Below, learn more about the procedure plus reasons babies and older children have a frenectomy.
What is a Frenectomy?
A frenectomy, also known as a frenulectomy, is a common outpatient surgical procedure in the mouth performed mostly on infants and children but sometimes on adults. During a frenectomy, the frenum is removed or clipped. Dental laser treatment is an option for patients with anterior tongue-tie, posterior tongue-tie, lip-tie, and for combination lip/tongue-tie.
What is Tongue-Tie?
When the frenulum under the tongue is unusually short or connects under the front of the tongue, mobility of the tongue is hindered. This condition is called “ankyloglossia,” better known as “tongue-tie” when it affects a baby’s ability to feed and a child’s or adult’s ability to speak and use the tongue in normal ways.
Signs a Baby Has Tongue-Tie
Not all physicians choose to recognize that tongue-tie can interfere with a newborn baby’s ability to feed properly, yet it is a common problem. A nursing mother might notice one or more of the following issues, any of which may be caused by tongue-tie:
- Your baby has difficulty attaching or staying attached to the breast.
- When feeding, your baby makes clicking sounds.
- Your baby isn’t getting a proper amount of nourishment.
- Your baby’s tongue looks heart-shaped when he sticks it out.
- Your baby feeds for long periods of time with short breaks between, leaving your nipples damaged or sore.
Having a frenectomy fixes these and a number of other problems and difficulties caused by tongue-tie.
Signs a Child has Tongue-Tie
As a child with tongue-tie grows, various other problems can develop. A frenectomy can solve the issues, though exercises are often needed to gain full movement of the tongue. There are muscles in the tongue that haven’t been used due to the condition. The following are among the signs a child has tongue-tie and would benefit from a frenectomy:
- Speech problems due to difficulty saying certain letters
- The frenulum under the tongue gets stuck between the teeth
- Receding gums that result in periodontal issues
- Unable to stick out the tongue past the lips
- There is a lot of spacing between the two upper front teeth caused by excess fibrotic tissue of the frenum
Contact Gep TOTs Dental Group
Do you believe your baby or child may have problems that are caused by tongue-tie or lip-tie? At Gep TOTs Dental Group, we specialize in performing lip-tie and tongue-tie laser treatments. Using a dental laser, we quickly correct these conditions, and your child will experience minimal discomfort. Contact us today at (647) 492-7059. Gep TOTs Dental Group is located at Woodbridge Kids Dentistry.