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A dental frenectomy can refer to any procedure where binding tissue in the mouth is cut or modified. Frenectomy procedures are quite common, especially during the infant stage of life and often refers to an oral procedure meant to resolve a tongue tie or a lip tie.

In your mouth, the “frenum” refers to a piece of soft tissue connected to the lips and gums. If the frenum is too short or too tight, it can interfere with breastfeeding, swallowing, or speech development.

Lingual frenectomy

The lingual frenum connects your tongue to your mouth. If you touch your tongue to the roof of your mouth, you can probably feel the lingual frenum stretching underneath your tongue.

The length of the lingual frenum varies from person to person. In some cases, people are born with a lingual frenum that’s very short. This shortened frenum restricts the movement of the tongue.

This condition is called ankyloglossia, or “tongue tie.” Tongue tie occurs in nearly 5 percent  of infants. It’s more common in boys than in girls.

This shorter length inhibits the movement of the tongue. Children with tongue-tie may experience:

  • trouble breastfeeding, leading to poor weight gain
  • speech issues, particularly with articulating the sounds for l, r, t, d, n, z, and th.
  • difficulties eating certain foods, such as licking an ice cream cone
  • problems with underbite, due to pressure on the jaw from the tongue being situated at a lower level
  • obstructive sleep apnea, possibly due to changes in facial development as well as increased mouth breathing

A quick procedure called a lingual frenectomy can give the tongue a greater range of motion.

Maxillary frenectomy

The labial frenum connects your top lip to the gum area right above your front teeth.

If this frenum is shorter than average, it can cause difficulty in speech development. This condition is a type of lip adhesion.

A lip adhesion can also pose a problem with dental development and make it hard to fully clean the gums and front teeth. This raises the risk of gum disease and other dental complications.

A maxillary frenectomy can give the upper lip more mobility.

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