A frenectomy is an oral surgical procedure where a doctor releases the frenum, or connective tissue membrane, in order to loosen or release the bands of tissue causing restriction of the lip or tongue. The procedure from our Edmonds office is simple, safe and effective. It’s recommended for infants and children with tongue or lip ties, and is most helpful in allowing infants and nursing mothers to feed more comfortably.
A lingual frenectomy is used to treat tongue ties. Tongue ties, also called “ankyloglossia,” occur when the lingual frenulum is overdeveloped. The lingual frenulum is the band of tissue that connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth.
A maxillary frenectomy is performed to remove lip ties. The frenulum between the upper gums and upper lip can become overdeveloped, causing issues with proper lip movement, and even causing diastema (a gap between the front teeth). In this procedure, the frenulum will be released to restore proper movement of the lips, and restore your child’s oral health.
Unlike a frenectomy, during which the frenulum is completely released, a frenuloplasty only slightly alters the frenulum. For some patients, a partial release of the frenulum is all that is required to restore mobility and flexibility to the lip or the tongue.
Tongue and lip ties are collectively known as “tethered oral tissues” or TOTs. They occur when the bands of tissue that connect the tongue or the lips to the mouth become overdeveloped to the point that proper movement is restricted.
Tongue and lip ties can make it hard for your child to breastfeed or use a bottle properly, resulting in poor feeding and inadequate nutrition. If you think that your child is having trouble feeding because of tongue or lip ties, you should get help from our pediatric office in Edmonds right away.
Feeding problems are the most common signs of tongue and lip ties. Your child’s lips and tongue need to be able to move properly to latch onto the nipple and stimulate it for proper feeding. If they seem to be having trouble making a proper seal, milk dribbles out from their mouth while feeding, or they frequently stop and start feeding, they may be having latching issues due to tongue or lip ties.
You can also look for visual signs of tongue and lip ties. For the lips, you can fold back your child’s upper lip and look at the frenulum. If it is difficult to lift the lip or it seems like your baby is unable to move their upper lip on their own, they may have a lip tie.
Signs of tongue ties include an inability for your child to stick their tongue out past their front teeth, raise/lift their tongue to their palate, or problems moving the tongue from side to side. Tongue ties can also be identified visually. A common sign of tongue ties is a “heart-shaped” tongue. When your child sticks their tongue out, the restriction caused by the tongue tie may cause it to look “notched” or heart-shaped, instead of appearing as a smooth “U” shape.
Your child’s mouth will be numb throughout the procedure, and we use special tools at our office to minimize pain and discomfort. With our LightScalpel CO2 laser, your child will experience minimal bleeding, and they will be able to recover from tongue or lip tie treatment quickly and with low levels of post-operative discomfort.
A frenectomy will typically be covered by dental or medical insurance, so you can get your child the care they need without worrying about high out-of-pocket expenses. Even if you do not have insurance, the cost of a frenectomy is relatively low. Insurance plans vary, so make sure you consult with your dental insurance company to make sure your child is covered for their treatment. If you live in Edmonds, Shoreline, Woodway or surrounding areas, make your first appointment with us today.
To care for the surgical site, you will need to clean the treatment area daily to prevent infection and keep it healthy. Dr. Christie may also recommend some stretches for the tongue and/or lips. These stretches will help ensure that when the frenulum heals, it will not reattach and restrict your child’s oral range of motion. Follow the instructions given to you and make sure you regularly perform all stretches recommended to you by your child’s dentist.
Frenectomies are usually identified in infants and young children before they grow older, so the treatment is primarily done on younger children. However, it’s not exclusively provided to infants and young children. Older kids, teenagers, or even adults who have tongue or lip ties may be able to benefit from treatment with a frenectomy if they have tongue or lip ties.