The frenulum is the small piece of tissue that anchors the upper lip to the gums. In most cases, it only extends to the ridge of the tooth where the crown ends and the roots begin. Normally, as a child grows the frenulum will appear to shrink back preventing it from being seen when they smile or speak.
What Is a Frenectomy?
There are instances where the frenulum is abnormally large and extends downward towards the upper ridge of the exposed tooth. A frenectomy is used to excise the tissue and allow the lip more freedom to move. If the frenulum is rather small, the dentist may only have to make an incision and separate the two pieces of tissue. If the frenulum is larger than most, a piece may have to be completely removed.
Why Are Frenectomies Performed?
If the frenulum is excessively large, it can separate the two front teeth as they begin to break through the gum line. If this occurs with the permanent teeth, it can cause the child’s bite to be misaligned. If the bite pattern is off by very far, orthodontic appliances may need to be worn, after a frenectomy has been performed. By removing the frenulum, the two teeth can be shifted back into their natural position.
What Techniques Are Used?
In the past, surgical procedures were used to clip the frenulum and separate the tissues. New technology allows for the procedure to be performed with lasers that require no anesthesia and dramatically reduce the amount of bleeding. The laser actually seals the incision as it is made, which means no stitches and a reduced risk of infection.
Talk to your dentist or other healthcare professionals if you have questions concerning a frenectomy and whether or not your child might benefit from one.