A frenum is a muscular attachment between two tissues. In your mouth there are two frenums which can cause issues, the labial frenum which connects the top of your gums to the inside of your lip and the lingual frenum which connects the underside of your tongue to the bottom of your mouth.
Tongue-tied or lip-tied
Children can develop tongue or lip tie as they grow. This means the frenum in the mouth is too short, and restricting movement of the tongue, which can lead to issues with eating and speaking. For babies, lip-ties can also result in difficulty latching on and breast feeding. In some cases tongue-tie can resolve itself, but shortened frenums will require surgical removal. Symptoms of tongue and lip-tie are:
- Reduced mobility of the tongue; the child cannot poke their tongue out past their lips, lick their lips, or touch the roof of their mouth with their tongue.
- The tongue is oddly shaped; either it is square when extended, or the tip of the tongue may look heart shaped.
- Children may have difficulty speaking
- Babies may have difficulty breast feeding
- There is a gap in the bottom front teeth
Aside from loss of tongue mobility and difficulty speaking, frenums can cause gaps between the front two teeth. Often this can be solved with orthodontic appliances such as braces, but if this method does not work, then the removal of the frenum may be required. It can also cause recession of the gum.
A frenectomy is the process in which a frenum is removed. An oral frenectomy surgery usually involves either surgical scissors or a scalpel. The procedure does differ depending on the age of the patient. For babies less than 12 weeks old, usually a scalpel will be used. Once the surgery has been performed the infant will be able to start breastfeeding almost immediately. For children and adults, the process will require stitches and a healing period of roughly 3 weeks.