A frenectomy, also known as a frenotomy, is any procedure where the binding tissue on the body is cut or modified in any way. Frenectomy operations are pretty common, especially during the infant stages of life.
In many cases, however, the term will refer to an oral procedure that is meant to resolve a tongue tie or lip tie. The frenum refers to a piece of soft tissue located in your mouth connected to the lips and gums. If the frenulum is too short or too tight, it will interfere with breastfeeding, swallowing or speech development.
The lingual frenum is the tissue that connects your tongue to your mouth. If you touch your tongue to the roof of your mouth, then you can most likely feel the lingual frenum stretching underneath it. The length of the lingual frenum will vary from individual to individual, but in some cases a person might be born with a lingual frenum that is very short. This shortened frenulum then restricts the movement of the tongue.
This condition is known as ankyloglossia or tongue tie. Tongue tie happens to nearly 5 percent of infants and it’s more common in boys than it is in girls. Tongue tie might interfere with breastfeeding during infant years and speech development as the child gets older. A quick procedure called a lingual frenectomy is able to give the tongue a greater range of motion.
The frenectomy procedure
In many cases, the oral frenectomy procedure is straightforward. Here are the steps:
- Once you undergo a consultation with your doctor or pediatrician, the individual receiving the frenectomy will be secured while lying face up. You might need to hold your child during the procedure, but this will depend on the clinic.
- Your doctor might apply a topical anesthetic to the area in order to numb any pain.
- Your doctor will then quickly snip or laser the frenum using a scalpel, surgical scissors or cauterizing instrument.
- If the lip tie is severe or more complicated, it can require a few stitches to close the incision.
- The whole process will likely take 15 minutes or less from beginning to end.
Laser frenectomies are essentially the same procedure as a traditional oral frenectomy. The only difference is the procedure will use a laser, which helps minimize the risk of infection and blood loss, as well as shortens the recovery time.
Frenectomy in infants
Lip tie and tongue tie is usually identified in infants. Babies who have this condition are sometimes not efficient in breastfeeding, which leads to slow weight gain or weight loss in a baby. If you are breastfeeding, you might experience more pain during feeding if your baby has a lip tie or tongue tie.
A frenectomy is simple to perform on an infant. Your healthcare provider or dentist will be able to perform a frenectomy in a healthcare office or clinic. The risks and complications associated with the procedure are minimal.