Do you have some space between your front teeth? Are you looking for a treatment that can close that gap? A frenectomy could be the solution you are looking for.
A frenectomy is a procedure where your frenum (an attachment of two soft tissues) is snipped or reconstructed. An excellent example is circumcision, where the excess skin is removed from a penis for hygienic purposes. However, this article will cover the oral procedure. This treatment is prevalent among infants.
Some babies are born with too short or tight frenums, restricting their ability to breastfeed and swallow and causing problems with speech later in life. There are three types of oral frenectomies, lingual, maxillary, and buccal.
A lingual frenum is found under your tongue and connects it to your mouth. If you roll your tongue upwards, you can feel it stretching.
These frenums differ in size from person to person, and they tend to cause issues when they are too short, as they can limit the movement of your tongue, which is called being tongue-tied or ankyloglossia.
Although this problem is dominant amongst infants, it is fascinating that it is more common in boys than girls.
If your baby struggles to latch while breastfeeding, you might want to have them checked out, as this could lead to problems with speech later in their life. The good news is that the procedure is quick and very effective.
The labial frenum is the skin that connects the gum above your front teeth to the top of your lip. People born with shorter labial frenums can experience speech impediments, also called lip adhesion.
This type of frenum can also lead to problems with your dental development and make practicing good oral hygiene difficult.
If you do not practice good oral hygiene, tooth decay, and gum disease can occur. In addition, having a maxillary frenectomy will give your upper lip more freedom to move around.
Your buccal frenum is the soft tissue that attaches your gums to your teeth. This tissue is typically located around your premolar area. This soft tissue allows your mouth to move while you talk and chew.
If there are any issues with this frenum, it could pull your cheeks inward, causing an array of problems. In addition, if a frequent strain is put on your buccal frenum, it could damage the tissue around your teeth, which can cause gaping pockets.
If left untreated, you or your child can experience unnecessary pain that can be fixed with this straightforward and painless procedure.
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How do You Know when you Need a Frenectomy?
Consult with your doctor if you or your child experiences any of these symptoms:
- There is a large gap between your two front teeth
Often your labial frenum has excess fibrotic tissue that can cause a gap between your teeth.
- If you are experiencing gum recession
If your labial frenum is near the edge of your gum tissue, it can cause tension, and your gums will start to recede if you don’t get treatment.
- If you have problems with speech, swallowing, and eating.
If your lingual frenum is not long enough, it can hinder the movement of your tongue.
How the Frenectomy Procedure Works
This procedure is usually quick and very simple. Your doctor will examine the area and determine if it is necessary to complete the process. More natural treatments are not so invasive if your frenum is not causing you any issues.
A topical anesthetic will be rubbed onto the affected area, and your doctor will ensure it is completely numb before continuing. Next, the dentist will cut your frenum with a scalpel, scissors, or a cautery pen.
Should you have a more severe case of lip tie, the incision is usually a bit larger and will require a few stitches. However, the whole process takes just 15 minutes, if not less.
This procedure works just the same as the traditional treatment, except that a laser is used. Doctors prefer using lasers to minimize the risk of infection and blood loss.
Your recovery will be as straightforward as the procedure. All you need to do is keep the affected area clean.
Eating softer foods that don’t require too much chewing in the first week after your surgery while your incision heals is essential. If food gets trapped in the area, you could risk infection. You will be prescribed antibiotics to avoid any complications or infections.
Your recovery should only take a week. After 48 hours, you will already start to heal; after seven days, you should notice the area beginning to scar.
Advantages of a Labial Frenectomy
Although most people don’t know this procedure exists, it is an effective treatment for space between your two front teeth or if your gums are receding by lifting off the jawbone. There are many advantages to this procedure which include:
- Improvement of your bite function
- Reduces pain and discomfort
- It can boost your confidence by closing the gap between your two front teeth.
Disadvantages of Labial Frenectomy
Few risks are associated with labial frenectomies, but they do occur.
Complications can include:
- Numbing of the tongue
- Temporary pain
- Hematoma (when blood vessels break due to a pool of blood forming in your tissue)
- Scar tissue can develop, but this is very rare
Although these sound scary, they are usually temporary and will not cause long-term problems. Should you or your child be required to undergo a general anesthetic, there are potentially more risks involved, and you should always address any concerns you might have with your doctor.
Advantages of a Lingual Frenectomy
When your lingual frenum is too far forward, it can cause problems with eating and speaking. It is also a big concern for babies as it hinders their ability to latch correctly or even drink from a bottle. It can also be excruciating for mommy if she is breastfeeding. Advantages of this procedure include:
It improves your appetite and makes eating easier. In addition, you will see an improvement in your speech.
Disadvantages of a Lingual Frenectomy
While this procedure is pretty simple and effective, there are always risks involved, which include:
- Risks resulting from the anesthetic
- Nerve damage to the mouth and tongue
- The frenum can reattach (very rare)
Frenectomy for Adults
As you grow, your mouth will change as well. If you find that your speech is getting better as you age and you no longer have eating and drinking issues, there may be a chance that you can avoid having a frenectomy.
However, your doctor still might suggest it, as your frenum could pull your gums away from your lower teeth, making them recede. It could also affect the way you move your lips.
As with most procedures, the older you are, the longer it will take to heal. It is still a very straightforward treatment, and there is nothing to worry about.
How Much Does a Frenectomy Cost?
If you have insurance, they will usually cover the cost of a frenectomy. Just ensure to get a referral from a doctor. Otherwise, you will be paying out of your pocket. Always check with your insurer first, though, as a co-pay might be involved.
If you are paying for this treatment, the cost can vary depending on your location and the surgeon you are using; expect to fork out between $800-$8,000.
This is a significant amount; you should always ask your surgeon if you can pay it off with a payment plan.
What Happens if Your Frenum Tears?
Frenum tears are prevalent in children. If it has torn, you will usually notice blood coming from the top of the gums and lips. Usually, there is no need for any medical attention, and it should heal on its own. However, here is some advice that might help you in this type of situation:
Press your lip against your teeth for 10 minutes to stop the bleeding. Try not to pull up your lip to check your frenum, as this could tear it further and cause more bleeding.
- a simple and effective in-office procedure that can help improve your speech,
- the gap between your front teeth,
- swallowing and eating.
This surgery is widespread in infants as their frenums can hinder them from latching correctly during breastfeeding.
While this procedure is pretty simple, risks are still involved, like an infection. However, you will be given antibiotics, reducing the infection risk.
This treatment can enhance your speech, appetite and help your baby breastfeed. It can be pretty costly, but if you have health insurance, it should be covered.