A frenectomy is an oral surgical procedure performed to correct the unhealthy shape, size or position of the frenum muscle tissue which connects the tongue, lips and cheeks to the jaw bone. When the frenum is abnormally formed and positioned, such as along the gums or tongue, it may impact teeth alignment and restrict tongue and lip movement for communication.

Defining the Frenum

Frenum is the medical term used to describe the soft muscle connective tissue found in the mouth, digestive tract, external genitalia and brain.

Frenectomy Oral Surgery Procedures

Frenectomy surgery serves varied purposes in dentistry to restore frenum condition for healthy oral function. Typical dentistry treatments requiring a frenectomy include:

  • Dentures
  • Tongue Clipping
  • Orthodontics

Dentures

Frenectomy surgery secures dentures for better retention if the frenum is the cause of loose fitting dentures. A prominent frenum dislodges dentures with lip movement. Frenectomy surgery reshapes and repositions the frenum to prevent denture pulling and shifting.

Tongue Clipping

The frenum tissue or lingual frenum is found under the tongue, and if attached too close to the tongue tip, may impede speech and impact healthy dental development. Sometimes referred to as being ‘tongue tied’, the condition may be identified early in children. A Lingual Frenectomy or ‘tongue clipping’ removes this frenum tissue from below the tongue for unrestricted tongue movement, proper dental development and normal speech.

Orthodontics

An abnormal oral frenum may be attached and extend above the gums, causing the gums to recede and irregular teeth spacing to develop. Commonly seen between the two top front teeth, a prominent frenum or labial frenum may be removed through labial frenectomy before orthodontic treatment such as Invisalign is used to return teeth spacing and alignment to normal.

Frenectomy Surgical Procedures

Prior to Frenectomy surgery the oral surgeon will explains the procedures involved, including risks, benefits and price. Patients may have their questions answered for understanding of frenectomy surgery before consenting to treatment.

Preparatory procedures include provision of local anaesthetic for pain-free surgery and Intravenous (IV) Sedation treatment where necessary, such as for dental phobia to provide the patient with greater relaxation during surgery.

Frenectomy procedures used to remove or alter the frenum may be with soft tissue laser or a dental scalpel. Laser frenectomy eliminates the need for stitches, reduces bleeding and allows for faster recovery. Frenectomy surgery duration is approximately half an hour and patients soon recover within a fortnight.

Post-Frenectomy Surgery Care

Patients usually recover from frenectomy surgery within an approximate period of two weeks. This depends on the patient’s health condition and healing rate.

The dentist may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medication or advise patients to use over-the-counter NSAIDs, such as Ibuprofen. Rinsing the mouth with an antibacterial mouthwash is recommended to clean the treatment site gently and prevent infection. Salt water may be used as an alternative mouth rinse.

Careful cleaning around the frenum treatment site is advised. However, patients are encouraged to continue healthy oral hygiene such as teeth brushing and flossing.

If frenectomy surgery procedures are performed by dental scalpel, sutures should self-dissolve within a two-week period or may need to be removed by the dentist.