A frenum (also called frenulum) is a band of tissue that connects or holds down a part of the body such as the tongue, lip, or cheeks.
Occasionally a frenum might be exceptionally short, thick, or tight, or may extend too far down along the tongue or the gum. When a frenum is positioned in such a way as to interfere with the normal alignment of teeth or to constrict the movement of the tongue or lips, you will require frenum correction. This is done bysimple surgery called a frenectomy.
The Frenectomy procedure is a simple surgical procedure that generally takes less than thirty minutes to complete and will usually take a couple of weeks to completely heal.
How does a Frenectomy work?
The Frenectomy procedure is a simple surgical procedure that generally takes less than thirty minutes to complete. It's usually carried out using either a scalpel or a soft tissue laser. Patients having a laser Frenectomy must remain perfectly still during the procedure.
When conducted with a soft tissue laser, a frenectomy tends to cause very little bleeding, does not require sutures, and often results in very little post-procedure discomfort. The procedure is performed using local anaesthesia, sometimes with with intravenous sedation as well.
What normally happens after a Frenectomy takes place?
You should rinse with saltwater or an antiseptic mouthwash such as Chlorhexidine mouthwash in order to keep the surgical area clean. You should brush carefully around the area and floss daily too.
If you have had Frenectomy using a scalpel, you will have resorbable sutures which should disappear by themselves within a couple of weeks. You should go back to see your dentist after two weeks to remove any sutures that have not resorbed and for your dentist to check that good healing has occurred
Are there any risks involved?
Like many other surgical procedures, there can be some pain, swelling, bruising, tenderness, gum scarring and bleeding after Frenectomy surgery. If the Frenectomy operation does not solve the problem completely then it may have to be repeated.
Occasionally nerve damage may occur after Frenectomy surgery. This damage may be in the form of a slight tingling sensation around the surgical area to total numbness of the area. Nerve damage in this area may only be temporary, and after a few weeks, sensations in the area may increase.
The consequences of an untreated tongue tie can be many and varied, depending largely on the age of the subject and the severity of the condition. The demands made on us increase as we grow older, and our environment becomes less forgiving of mistakes.
Delay in treatment, therefore, can have very negative consequences:
Children with a tongue tied have to contend with difficulties which may only be discovered as they grow older. These can include:
- Inability to chew age appropriate solid foods
- Gagging, choking or vomiting foods
- Persisting food fads
- Difficulties related to dental hygiene
- Persistence of dribbling
- Delayed development of speech
- Behaviour problems
- Dental problems starting to appear
- Strong, incorrect habits of compensation being acquired
- Dental problems starting to appear
What adults have to contend with is very much the result of old habits of compensation for inadequate tongue mobility. The areas of difficulty spread to include social and domestic situations, self-esteem, the work environment, and dental health. Thus it is seen that the consequences of unrepaired tongue tie do not reduce with time - instead, more difficulties are experienced as time passes.
The specific challenges an adult with a tongue tied may face include:
- Inability to open the mouth widely affects speech and eating habits.
- Always having to watch their speech
- Inability to speak clearly when talking fast/loud/soft
- Difficulty talking after even moderate amounts of alcohol
- Clicky jaws
- Pain in the jaws
- Protrusion of the lower jaws, inferior prognathism.
- Multiple effects in work situations.
- Effects on social situations, eating out, kissing, relationships
- Dental health, a tendency to have inflamed gums, and increased need for fillings and extractions
- Sensitivity about personal appearance
- Emotional factors resulting in rising levels of stress
- Tongue tie in the elderly often makes it difficult to keep a denture in place.