A prominent frenum or frenulum — also known as a tongue or lip tie — is a condition that is formed during early fetal development and usually affects both the lip and the tongue, restricting movement of the tongue and causing painful and/or ineffective feeding. Tongue/lip tie affects nearly 10% of the population. The correction of this condition is a simple procedure called a frenectomy that can be done in our offices with our soft tissue laser where we release the frenum, a connective muscle between two tissues in the mouth. If you or your child is showing signs of tongue/lip tie, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with one of our oral surgeons so that you or your child can receive a diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
There are two types of frenectomies that are frequently performed on both adults and children for a variety of reasons:
- Labial Frenectomy. A labial frenectomy is performed on the tissue that connects the lip to the gums. This may be performed on children or adults to aid with orthodontic treatment or even help with the proper fitting for a denture or appliance.
- Lingual Frenectomy. A lingual frenectomy may also be referred to as the release of tongue-ties (ankyloglossia). This procedure is performed on the connective tissue under the tongue. The procedure is often performed on infants to assist with nursing or on toddlers or older patients who need the surgery to help correct speech issues caused by limited movement of the frenum.
Problems with Tongue or Lip Tie
The most common indicator of tongue or lip tie is when an infant is having trouble latching on effectively during breastfeeding, causing painful feeding for the mother and fussiness or poor weight gain in the infant. An ineffective latch happens because the lip is unable to fully lift, and the restriction of tongue movement causes problems drawing out the milk. A baby who is bottle-fed and has a tongue tie may have issues with feeding as well, although this is not as common.
When a tongue or lip tie is not surgically corrected, speech and dental problems may occur as the child grows, and there may be a higher probability of the child needing braces or having breathing issues. In most cases, performing a frenectomy procedure in infants with tongue or lip tie is safe, and most pediatricians will recommend the procedure to correct feeding issues and prevent other associated problems.
The frenectomy procedure uses a special soft tissue laser to quickly release the frenum to allow the lip and tongue to move freely and normally immediately following the procedure. In infants, anesthetic is not used so that feeding is possible right after the procedure, but older patients will receive a numbing medication at the surgical site. The frenectomy procedure involves very little risk and can deliver good results, quickly. Soft tissue lasers are used for numerous procedures in and around the oral cavity. We use this type of laser for performing labial and lingual frenectomies, as well as biopsies and removal of precancerous lesions. These lasers are efficient, cause less discomfort than other methods, promote a faster healing time, and decrease the risk of post-surgical infection.
If you or your child suffers from a tongue tie or lip tie, please contact Avon Oral, Facial and Dental Implant Surgery so that our doctors can answer any questions you may have about the frenectomy procedure and form a treatment plan to restore oral function and proper feeding.