A frenulum is a term that describes a small piece of tissue that acts as an anchor to hold an organ, or organs, in place. The body has multiple frena. Two of them can be found in the mouth. One secures your tongue to the floor of your mouth. The other secure your upper lip to your gums. In a small percentage of people, either frenulum or both, may be too tight, resulting in a tongue or a lip tie. When the frenulum is too tight, it can cause several significant issues. In infants, it can interfere with proper feeding. For older children, it can affect speech development and the alignment of their teeth. At Douglas L. Park, DDS, Pediatric Dentistry, we can correct tongue and lip ties with a frenulectomy.
Issues Caused by Tongue and Lip Ties
A tongue tie, or ankyloglossia, is when the frenulum that connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth is too short, or it is connected too closely to the tip of the tongue. A lip tie is when the frenulum between the upper lip and the gum tissue is too tight. Both of these conditions can cause several issues. A tongue tie can cause problems such as:
|Poor latch. This can make breastfeeding difficult and can also cause pain for the mother.
|Improper speech development.
|Trouble swallowing properly.
|Improper growth and development of the mouth.
|Difficulty with simple things like licking an ice cream cone.
A lip tie can cause complications such as:
|Poor latch and pain for the mother while breastfeeding.
|A diastema, or space between the two front teeth.
|Increased risk for tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease.
|Greater risk for repeated trauma to the frenulum.
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How is a Frenulectomy Performed?
A frenulectomy, also called a frenectomy, is a procedure that is performed to improve the movement of the tongue or lip by cutting, or releasing, the frenulum. For years, this procedure has been performed using a scalpel, which required stitches following the procedure. It could also result in significant downtime afterward. Today, however, the procedure is performed using a laser. A laser uses a concentrated beam of light to vaporize the tissue, cauterizing the cut as it works. This reduces the discomfort felt as well as the amount of bleeding experienced afterward. There is also much less downtime involved.
The procedure itself is fairly straightforward. For infants, a frenulectomy is done without the use of an anesthetic. The tissue is cut, and there are minimal side effects. There is minimal to no downtime involved, and your child can nurse right away. Nursing immediately after a frenulectomy can help to soothe your child as well as provide them with healing properties.
For toddlers and older children, a frenulectomy is done under a mild anesthetic. We then use the laser to cut the frenulum. Depending upon the situation, stitches may or may not be needed. The procedure is usually over in less than half an hour.
Benefits of a frenulectomy include:
|Improved latch. This leads to more effective nursing, which can boost the milk supply. This improves the nutrition of your child and can help them to get all of the milk that they need.
|Elimination of pain for the mother.
|Enabling proper speech development.
|Prevention of developmental issues.
For infants, a frenectomy can help to improve feeding, and comfort for mom. For older children, treatment can prevent, or improve speech or tooth alignment issues. Call Douglas L. Park, DDS, Pediatric Dentistry today to learn more at (503) 663-8141.