What is a Frenectomy?

Is a frenum restricting movement in key areas of your mouth? Our dentists at Chapman Mills Dental can surgically remove it by performing a frenectomy. Ask our team in Ottawa about this procedure and your options. 

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Frenectomy, Ottawa Dentist

About the Frenectomy Procedure

A frenum is a soft tissue attachment between two structures. In fact, the mouth has a total of seven frenal attachments. Your dentist can perform a frenectomy procedure to remove a frenum in the mouth. 

However, there are two major frena (the plural form of frenum) in the mouth that most often can block normal oral function and may need to be released. 

These frena are the lingual frenum (the tongue-tie) that connect the tongue to the floor of the mouth, and the maxillary labial frenum (the upper midline lip-tie), which connects the inside of your upper lip to your gums just above your upper two front teeth. 

This procedure may be performed using either scissors or a laser. However, we prefer to use lasers when available.

Maxillary Labial Frenum & Frenectomy

The maxillary (upper jaw) labial frenum attaches the upper lip to the gums just above the upper two front teeth. Move your tongue up between your upper lip and your teeth and you will feel this thin band of tissue. 

If the maxillary labial frenum is too prominent (thick and low), this can cause a large gap to occur between the upper two front teeth, causing aesthetic concerns.

However, unless the frenum causes severe pain on the upper lips and gums, immediate treatment is not always necessary and can be delayed until the upper permanent teeth have come in. 

Many times, permanent teeth will emerge and naturally close the gap between the two front teeth. If the gap is not closed, it can be treated using braces. 

In some cases, the teeth may start to drift apart again after braces are removed. Your dentist can determine whether a maxillary labial frenectomy is needed. If you do have orthodontic treatment, this procedure should not be done before the gap is closed because scar tissue can form, making it more difficult to eliminate the space between the upper two teeth.

Lingual Frenum & Frenectomy

The lingual frenum connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth. Sometimes, the lingual frenum can run all the way to the tip of the tongue, causing a person to be tongue-tied. 

A restrictive lingual frenum is common in young children. Normally, a prominent lingual frenum will not cause major issues. Surprisingly, children will be able to eat and speak normally with the condition.

If the attachment extends all the way to the tip of the tongue, this may interfere with proper breastfeeding and lead to problems in the future with speaking, swallowing and chewing solid foods.

A frenectomy may be the only treatment option to ensure the child's tongue can function normally and that its range of motion is increased. 

A lingual frenectomy is a simple outpatient procedure and involves numbing the tongue with an anesthetic, with minimal pain involved.

A small releasing incision with a laser is then made. This will free the tongue from the floor of the mouth. 

Our Frenectomy Procedure

Whether we are performing a frenectomy on a child or adult, we take a focused, patient-centred approach. By using a laser, we can reduce bleeding and promote faster healing than if scissors were used as the tool of choice. 

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Scissors vs. Laser: Is There a Difference?

Many patients ask us whether outcomes differ significantly when a frenectomy is performed using a laser instead of scissors. Here are some major differences to consider.

  • Scissors are faster, however more uncomfortable than laser

    Traditionally, scissors were used to treat these conditions. However, with a state-of-the-art laser the surgery will result in minimal to no bleeding and is less painful for your baby. 

    While it may sound scary, the laser procedure is actually less painful and more precise than the traditional scissor method. This minimally invasive procedure involves burning the membrane connecting the tongue to the gum line. 

    While there may be some delayed pain with a laser, your child will not need general anesthesia or sedation and the recovery time will be shorter, making this procedure safer. We are happy to discuss expected risks and outcomes with you.  

  • Laser more effective in removing all the tissue off the ridge in lip ties

    Because it's more precise, a laser can more effectively remove all of the tissue from the ridge of the mouth in lip ties.

    This can improve tooth spacing in these areas and reduce risk of tooth decay.

  • Minimal bleeding improves visualization and increases safety

    Compared to traditional surgery with scissors, there is much less, if any, bleeding involved with laser surgery. This helps your dentist get a clearer view of the area, increasing the safety of the procedure. 

  • More thorough than scissors and is best way to treat posterior tongue ties effectively

    With the laser, we can more effectively treat posterior tongue ties and improve patient outcomes. 

  • Lasers offer a precision that can’t be matched by scissors

    State-of-the-art laser treatment is safe and minimally invasive. It offers a precision that scissors are unable to match. Since the need for general anesthesia and sedation are eliminated, the procedure is made safer and less time-consuming. The entire procedure takes less than five minutes. 

Myths of Breastfeeding and Ties

When it comes to breastfeeding and ties, there are some pervasive myths to be aware of. Here are just a few we've addressed with patients.

  • Mother must stop breastfeeding due to pregnancy

    This is not true. You can continue nursing your baby even while you are pregnant. Some women find that their nipples become more sensitive and choose to stop nursing, but there is no medical reason you need to stop breastfeeding if you become pregnant again.

  • Mother and baby will adapt to difficult latch

    Sometimes, breastfeeding is a trial and error process as both become used to the other. But if mom and baby are having a difficult time with latching, it may be time to see a doctor. 

  • Pain while breastfeeding is normal

    If you are feeling any pain while breastfeeding, it's important to talk to your doctor and/or medical team, as there may be a medical issue that should be diagnosed and treated. 

  • Mother isn’t making enough milk

    The breast produces milk based on appropriate breast stimulation. Sometimes a baby will be unable to stimulate breast tissue and slides down to the end of the nipple as a result of anatomical limitations. 

    Further investigation into this issue may lead to a diagnosis and effective treatment option. 

  • “I had a tongue-tie and I turned out fine”

    While this may be true for some, others may need to have a frenectomy to help the tongue function as it should. We advise patients to consult a dentist, doctor or appropriate medical health professional for advice. We are happy to answer any questions you may have. 

The following are links to some more great information regarding breastfeeding myths. Please click on link below for further reading.

The Myths About Painful Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding Myths vs. Real Facts Moms Should Know

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