In general terms, a frenulum is a piece of tissue that prevents too much movement of the body part or organ to which it is attached. In the dental world, the mouth contains two major frena – the lingual frenulum and the maxillary labial frenulum. While these frena are rarely of any concern, they can sometimes cause problems, which may require a frenectomy.
Problems with the Frena
The lingual frenulum is the fold of tissue that connects the tongue to the floor of your mouth. Sometimes, the frenulum can be short, or be connected to the tip of the tongue, causing a tongue tie. A tongue tie is present at birth, and, if severe, can cause issues with speaking and eating.
The maxillary labial frenulum connects the upper lip to the gums. If the frenulum is too big, or too thick, it can cause a gap in your permanent teeth. The gap can be closed with braces, but, if the frenulum is too big, it can cause the gap to reopen after your braces are removed. It is also important to note that if you do have a frenectomy on the maxillary labial frenulum, it should be done after the gap between your two upper front teeth has been closed, otherwise, scar tissue can prevent the gap from being closed later.
The frenectomy is a simple procedure. First, a local anesthetic is administered to numb the area. A scalpel or laser is used to cut the frenulum and the stitches are placed to close the wound.
The laser, which cuts the frenulum gently with laser pulses, is becoming a more popular method of performing a frenectomy, offering several benefits over the use of a scalpel. First, it reduces the amount of bleeding. It lessens the amount of tissue damage and requires less sutures afterward. Finally, using the laser means a faster, and better, healing time.
A frenectomy on the lingual frenulum is often performed on young children. Tongue ties can affect their ability to breastfeed effectively or even eat from a bottle. A severe one can even affect their ability to talk properly as they learn to speak. On the maxillary labial frenulum, a frenectomy serves an orthodontic purpose, allowing an unsightly gap to close properly, and stay closed, giving you a beautiful, uniform smile.
During the healing process, it is important to keep your mouth clean. A salt water rinse can help with this. It also can help reduce any inflammation as well as prevent any infections. You should still maintain your brushing routine, brushing at least twice a day, but brush carefully. Brushing will help remove leftover food particles, reducing the amount of bacteria that could potentially cause an infection.
While you are healing, monitor your mouth. If you notice anything off, notify the office as soon as possible. If you have regular sutures, you will have them removed after your healing process is over, otherwise, dissolvable sutures will disappear on their own.
Under normal circumstances, the oral frena require no special attention. If either frenulum is causing you concern, call Southern Arizona Periodontics. With our long-standing reputation for quality and excellence, we can provide you with the care you need and deserve. Call today to schedule an appointment.