Fixing Your Frenum
Sometimes dental issues have causes beyond our teeth – maybe your dental problem involves your gums, jawbone, facial muscles, tongue, surrounding tissue… the list goes on. There is a lot going on in and around your mouth that helps it to function properly throughout the day and night. Every tooth, bone, and tissue has a job to contribute.
What is a Frenum?
A frenum is the fleshy piece of skin that attaches an organ to nearby tissue. A labial frenum connects the upper lip to the upper gums/jaw. Sounds like such a funny word for such a tiny portion of the human body. But what you may not know is that this frenum can affect the mouth in different ways depending on its size or position.
Not all frena (ie: plural for frenum) are the same… a short or “tight” frenum may be described as overdoing its job, and this can cause major dental issues. Simple tasks like talking and eating may become painful, while spaces between teeth and other aesthetic issues may also interfere with your day-to-day life and level of overall confidence. Thick frena can even cause parents to have a hard time helping their children brush their teeth without hurting the surrounding soft tissue. Ouch!
Also, the limited movement of the lip can lead to mouth breathing (due to open mouth posture), or extended tissue can come between the two front teeth and create a gap (diastema) or gum recession. See! This little guy can really make or break it. If you or your child is experiencing any of the above oral concerns, a frenectomy may be a necessary measure to consider.
How a Frenectomy Works
A frenectomy is the removal of the frenum tissue. Thankfully, most people experience immediate benefits following a successful frenectomy. The actual process usually only takes a few minutes and is pretty simple to complete. Though it is a surgery, the patient is in and out in no time with minimal discomfort in the days following.
In short, the doctor numbs the area and makes an incision to relax the frenum – release it from being so tight or typically fully remove it. Sutures are only necessary depending on the size and severity of the frenum issue. A more modern “surgery” technique utilizes laser surgery, causing less tissue damage and less bleeding for improved healing post-surgery.
When to Get a Frenectomy
For young children without permanent teeth yet, a frenectomy may be possible as a preventative measure. For others with incisors or all permanent teeth – not all diastemas are caused by tight frena, and not all gaps can be closed by orthodontic procedures. Having a frenectomy will not make your already spaced teeth come together. This is why we recommend completing orthodontic or aesthetic treatment prior to getting a frenectomy. Once the diastema has been closed, your dentist can re-evaluate your frenum to see if it was the problem.
It is still widely debated exactly when the best time to get a frenectomy, but at the end of the day, we know that the state of your smile goes beyond your teeth. The way you swallow/use your tongue, the tissue in your mouth, the amount of bone supporting your teeth… all of these come together to give you your smile. Looking to improve that sheepish grin? Request an appointment with us online, or give us a call! We can help you and your family with their oral health needs.