Laser Frenectomy – Tongue-Ties and Lip-Ties

What You Need to Know 


Laser Frenectomy Procedure

A frenectomy is a procedure that may benefit both children and adults with not only speech, airway and periodontal issues, but also orthodontic spacing and digestive issues.

The frenum, or frenulum, is the tissue that attaches any organ to its neighboring tissue to restrict its motion. The type of frenum dentists frequently work with is the band of tissue that attaches the underside of the tongue to the bottom jaw. The most common frenectomies involve the tongue, upper lip an lower lip. If the frenum is too short, tight or tough it can inhibit movement causing difficulty with regular tasks like talking and eating or cause gaps in teeth. The frenectomy is a simple procedure that severs and typically removes the frenum to allow more movement.

A frenectomy procedure can be done with a scalpel, scissors, or a laser. At Pediatric Smiles we use a carbon dioxide (CO2) laser. There are many advantages to using a laser including efficiency and eliminating the need for stitches. We numb the area with a topical anesthetic and/or a local anesthetic which is determined during the consultation. A frenectomy is a low-risk, outpatient procedure that typically solves the targeted problem and takes just a few minutes to complete.

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Types of Frenectomy 

Labial Frenectomy (lip-tie)

A lip tie occurs when the membranes in the piece of tissue that is directly behind the upper or lower lip (frenulum), is too thick or too short, preventing full movement of the lip. If left untreated, a lip tie can cause functional problems in a child’s mouth causing difficulty for infants to bottle or breast feed. An upper lip-tie can can extend toward the two upper front teeth and cause a diastema or gap in the teeth at times making orthodontic work to close the gap, in older children and adults, more difficult. It  A lip-tie will not go away on its own. It should be treated when it is found to ensure the proper development of your child.

A lip-tie can lead to open mouth breathing which in children can impair the development of nose breathing and by extension proper airway and jaw development. It can also cause gum recession in the future.

 

Lingual Frenectomy (tongue-tie)

The tongue attaches to the floor of the mouth with a web of tissue called the lingual frenulum. A functional lingual frenulum allows for proper range of motion and movement of the tongue. It won’t negatively impact surrounding structures like teeth and gums and may or may not be visible. If you are able to see a tongue frenulum it does not mean that it is necessarily a “tie” or restricting full motion or range of the tongue.

A dysfunctional linqual frenulum, is more commonly known as a “tongue tie”. Many times the symptoms being experienced and the actual feel of the frenulum are key in helping determine if the tongue frenulum is truly tied and impacting full function. More anterior ties, those that attach closer to the tip of the tongue are simple to visually diagnose, but those further back, the posterior or submucosal frenulums are not always visually evident.

Some children that have a tie or restriction may not presently experience any symptoms or problems. These cases are still important to assess due to longterm issues that may impact the child.

 

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