A frenectomy is any medical procedure when a piece of tissue on your body is cut or modified. The most common types of frenectomy procedures are: a genital frenectomy to accomplish a circumcision; and an oral frenectomy to eliminate a tongue tie or lip tie in an infant (though adults can have tongue and lip tie, as well). Your dentist in Gilbert may perform oral frenectomy procedures to resolve lip or tongue ties in infants. The very notion of an infant undergoing such a procedure is stressful to consider. That’s why we’ve prepared this brief article — to explain what is involved, to answer some common questions and to ease parents’ natural anxiety about what to expect.
What are lip tie and tongue tie?
The phrase tongue tie describes the condition called ankyloglossia that affects approximately five percent of infants (and more boys than girls). In an infant with tongue tie, the tissue that connects the underside of his tongue to the mouth’s floor is shorter than it typically is. When that tissue — called the lingual frenum — is shorter than usual, it restricts the tongue’s range of motion. That can interfere with breastfeeding and speech development. Tongue tie is resolved via a lingual frenectomy in Gilbert.
The phrase lip tie describes the condition when the tissue that runs between an infant’s top lip and their upper gums — called the labial frenulum — is shorter than usual. A shorter than usual labial frenulum causes lip adhesion that can complicate dental development, oral hygiene and speech development. Lip tie is resolved via a maxillary frenectomy near you.
What happens during a frenectomy?
Lingual and maxillary frenectomy procedures performed by a dentist near you take approximately 15 minutes and can use sterilized instruments such as a scalpel or surgical scissors or lasers. There are four steps to the frenectomy procedure:
- Following a consultation with the dentist or pediatrician, your infant will be placed in a comfortable but secure position for the procedure. You may be able or need to hold your child to keep her still and comfortable.
- While the procedure is quick and almost entirely painless — especially if performed with a laser — a topical anesthetic may be applied to further eliminate any discomfort.
- The lingual or labial frenulum will be snipped or cut with a tiny incision using a sterilized instrument (scalpel or surgical scissors) or laser implement.
- In extreme or complex cases, stitches may be used to close the incision (though this is unusual and not necessary for procedures performed with a laser).
The existence of a lip tie or tongue tie in an infant is not itself a medical condition that requires treatment. All of our bodies have eccentricities. To the extent that a lip or tongue tie does not interfere with an infant’s growth or development, a lip or tongue tie may be just such a unique characteristic of your child. Having said that, parents who notice the presence of a lip or tongue tie on their child and are concerned about the effect of that characteristic on their ability to breastfeed, learn to speak, eat, maintain good oral hygiene and move their tongue, lip and mouth freely should consult with a dentist, pediatrician, midwife or breastfeeding consultant.
If your infant’s lip or tongue tie is presenting problems for his growth and development, resolving that condition is quick, simple and painless.