A frenum is a piece of tissue that connects different parts of the mouth together. There are
several frena present, including the lingual frenum (the piece of tissue under the tongue that
connects your tongue to your mouth), the labial frenum (which attaches both your bottom and
top lips to your mouth), and the buccal frena (which connect your gums to your cheeks).
Frena are an essential part of our smiles and keep our mouths healthy and functional. However,
there are certain cases where the frena are hindering to the mouth’s daily activities, such as
speaking and eating. What is a frenectomy, and why is it necessary?
What Is a Frenectomy?
A frenectomy is the removal or shortening of a frenum in the mouth. For some people, their
frena may be elongated and cause problems, so a frenectomy will better shape the frenum and
alleviate any discomfort or challenges.
A frenectomy could include the removal of one frenum or removal of several frena. Whichever
frena are causing problems are the ones that will need attention to help your mouth be
comfortable and functional again. Any frena have the potential to cause problems!
When Is a Frenectomy Necessary?
There are a few scenarios in which a frenum or frena would need to be removed. For example,
if the lingual frenum (underneath the tongue) is too long, it can cause infants discomfort or
difficulty when eating. This is what constitutes the phrase “tongue-tied”—having an elongated
lingual frenum that essentially binds your tongue to the bottom of your mouth.
For labial frenum (which connect your lips to your mouth), there may be problems when
getting orthodontic treatment as your child gets older. If the labial frena extend too far, they can actually cause a gap between the front teeth. In some cases, the gap goes away once the permanent teeth come in; however, if it doesn’t, a frenectomy may be necessary to fully address spacing issues when your child is receiving orthodontic treatment.
Who Performs the Procedure?
An oral surgeon will usually perform the frenectomy. The procedure is simple—usually lasting
only about 15 minutes—and recovery time is relatively short, approximately two weeks.
Unless the frena are causing a problem such as hindering your infant from feeding or causing
speech problems as your child gets older, typically noninvasive treatments are considered first.
However, a frenectomy may be necessary under certain circumstances. Any dentist, especially a
good pediatric dentist, can evaluate your child for problems with any of their frena to
determine if they could be affecting your child’s ability to eat, speak, or will create problems
with teeth spacing later in life.
If you notice your child is having issues, you may be able to gently check their frena for
elongation. However, scheduling an appointment with your child-friendly dentist is important
to have a professional evaluation. For some children, frena don’t need to be noticeably
elongated to cause problems. A frenectomy is a simple procedure that can help your child
overcome these challenges and have a pain-free, functional smile for life!