What is a frenum?
A frenum, also called a frenulum, is a small fold of muscular tissue that prevents an organ in the body from moving too far.
There are two main frenums in the mouth: the lingual frenum and the labial frenum.
Generally, the frenums are assessed from when children are young. If a frenum is malformed (too short, too long, or too rigid) it can cause developmental problems and movement restrictions as the child grows.
At VC Dental, we see patients as young as 6 weeks old to diagnose and rectify developmental cases.
However, we also provide treatment for adult patients. This treatment is successful at any age.
The lingual frenum is the band of tissue that connects the bottom of your tongue to the floor of your mouth.
If you lift your tongue up in front of a mirror you will be able to see the lingual frenum.
It is designed to connect your tongue to the jawbone, but if the frenum is too tight or too short (attaches too close to the tip of your tongue) it can restrict the movement of the tongue. This condition is commonly called a tongue-tie (ankyloglossia) and it can affect speech, swallowing, breast feeding and eating. A tongue-tie may also inhibit correct jaw development, which can cause long-term orthodontic problems and/or lead to sleep apnoea.
The labial frenum is the small band of tissue that connects from the centre of the upper lip to between the upper front teeth.
If the labial frenum is too long it can create a large gap between the two front teeth, and/or cause gum recession as the frenum pulls the gums away from the teeth.
In rarer cases, if the frenum is too short/tight it can create an open-mouth position that inhibits the mouth from properly sealing. This can cause mouth breathing and improper development of the airway and jaw.
Whether our concern is the lingual or labial frenum, the procedure is generally the same.
It involves removing and/or reshaping the frenum to create a greater range of motion of the lips or tongue, and to allow for proper oral development and muscular function.
Lingual and labial frenectomies are minimally invasive procedures performed using laser surgery.
The use of laser technology for dental treatment is advanced, safe and highly effective.
The laser is ideal for precisely removing and reshaping soft tissue and it cauterises (seals off the blood vessels) at the same time. This helps to reduce or eliminate bleeding both during and after the procedure. The laser also provides a more sterilised treatment environment, and can result in faster treatment times, and quicker patient healing and recovery.
Laser surgery is quick, straightforward and is generally well tolerated under local anaesthetic (to numb the treatment area).
However, if preferred we do have sedation options available including inhalation sedation (‘happy gas’), oral sedatives and IV sedation to ensure the patient is comfortable for the duration of the procedure. You can read more about these options here.
Lingual frenectomy procedure
In a lingual frenectomy the aim is to reduce the frenum in size to “release / free” the tongue-tie and allow for proper oral and muscular function including speech, swallowing and movement.
Labial frenectomy procedure
A labial frenectomy can be performed in conjunction with orthodontic treatment to assist with closing a front tooth gap (diastema), or for patients fitted with a denture where it is loosening the fit and causing discomfort. It can also be used in growing children to prevent problems with the development of the airway, jaw and breathing patterns.
Please note, any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding you should obtain personal advice from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.