An infant frenectomy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that is done to remove one or both frena from the oral cavity. A frenum is a connective tissue membrane that connects surfaces of the oral cavity. The major frena include lingual (holds the tongue to the bottom of the mouth), labial or maxillary (connects the lips to the gum), and buccal frena (attaches the gums to the cheeks’ insides).
When to perform an infant frenectomy
An elongated or short thick lingual frenum limits tongue movement in babies and can make breastfeeding or sucking from a bottle more challenging. The condition is also described as a tongue-tie. If the anomaly is not corrected until the baby grows older, the child may experience difficulty with speech compared to their peers.
The condition may go undetected during routine checkups. Sometimes, it may only be discovered after the child reaches school age. Elongated frena in children may prevent normal extension of the tongue. In extreme situations, the child may find swallowing difficult and painful. Infant frenectomy can be performed quickly and with minimal discomfort within the first few weeks after birth.
If there is an issue like an extended maxillary labial frenum, the worry is often about the risk of orthodontic issues. The elongated labial frenum can inhibit normal growth and spacing of the two front upper teeth. Many parents typically worry about the aesthetic effects of the gap, thinking that it means getting braces. However, it is advisable to delay orthodontic treatment until the adult teeth erupt. If the gap remains despite deploying braces, then a labial frenectomy can be done to solve the abnormal spacing issue. Sometimes, the development of adult teeth makes the gap caused by the extended labial frenum close naturally.
If the child is dealing with the side effects of a tongue- or lip-tie, the pediatric dental specialist will recommend a frenectomy as a permanent solution. The dental professional will examine the frenum or frena and decide whether to proceed with the procedure. Unless the frenum is interfering with the child’s feeding or speech, they will usually consider natural and non-invasive options first. If surgery is the best solution, it will be completed in the specialist’s office.
A lingual frenectomy entails detaching the tissue connecting the tongue and the floor of the mouth. The procedure is done to correct tongue-tie, or ankyloglossia. A maxillary frenectomy involves the removal of the tissue attaching the upper gums to the front teeth. This tissue can make it so that newborns cannot flare or curl out their lips, making it difficult to latch onto the breast while feeding.
The procedure usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes, and recovery might take around two weeks. The dentist will prescribe pain relief meds to alleviate soreness and pain around the surgery site. The dental professional will also explain the proper aftercare routine, including cleaning the area and preventing unnecessary tongue movement, to the parents before leaving the office.
The pediatric dental specialist may recommend infant frenectomy following an examination. To learn more about the procedure, contact the dental office to book an appointment.