Patient Education

Having Frenectomy Surgery

Having Frenectomy Surgery

A frenectomy is a surgical procedure that removes or alters the frenum, which is a small fold of oral tissue or muscle. The purpose of this small fold in the body is to keep the tissue it is attached to from moving too far.  Inside the mouth, there are two such folds which may cause orthodontic or speech problems. One is located in the middle of the upper lip and called the labial frenum. The lingual frenum is the small fold located at the midline under the tongue. In either of these locations, the frenum may too short, too thick, or too tight. It may also interfere with proper alignment of the teeth or restrict movement of the tongue.

A Labial Frenectomy

The labial frenum is attached to the upper lip between your two upper front teeth. A labial frenectomy may be necessary in some patients after undergoing orthodontic treatment because the frenum is pushing the teeth apart or interfering with proper alignment. In other cases, the labial frenum may need to be removed prior to orthodontic treatment because too much space exists between upper teeth before the eyeteeth have erupted. Removing or altering the frenum allows the teeth to move together by removing the obstruction. A labial frenectomy may also be recommended for patients who wear dentures. A prominent or enlarged labial frenum can cause dentures to fit poorly or remain loose. The fit and retention of the denture can be greatly improved through a surgical release or frenectomy for these patients.  

A Lingual Frenectomy

When the frenum that attaches the tongue to the floor of the mouth is too short or tight, it can restrict the normal motion of the tongue. In some cases, the frenum may even attach all the way to the tip of the tongue. The presence of a very restrictive lingual frenum is also called ankyloglossia, or a tongue-tie. It is a congenital anomaly in some people that can result in speech problems, eating difficulty, hygiene issues, and lead to bite deformities. After a lingual frenectomy, patients often experience significant relief and gain the ability to extend the tongue well beyond what was possible before the procedure. 

The Frenectomy Procedure

A frenectomy is a straightforward surgical procedure in which the frenum is excised.  It can be performed with a scalpel or with a laser. It may be performed while the patient is under local anesthesia or with intravenous sedation for complete comfort. A frenectomy is generally recommended only when the anatomy in question is causing problems such as pain, interruption of normal function, disruption of orthodontic treatment, interference with dentures, or difficulty with eating, swallowing, or talking in children.