The frenectomy procedure might sound intimidating, but it is a long word to describe a simple method having to do with tissue in the mouth.
The tissue that attaches any organ to nearby tissue to prevent it from flopping around is called frenum, or frenulum. Although there are several frenums throughout the body, these typically don’t need treatment, and frenectomies take place inside the mouth.
When the frenum of the lips or tongue is too tight or short, it can make routine tasks difficult, and eating and talking become problematic. In infants, it can impact proper development or prevent successful breastfeeding because latching on is difficult. Your pediatrician or lactation specialist might recommend a frenectomy. The frenectomy procedure severs the frenum so movement is not inhibited.
Frenectomies at Tiny Texans Pediatric Dentistry
Most babies tolerate the frenectomy procedure quite well. Although crying and fussing are common, the area is numbed with a topical gel and a bit of local anesthetic is injected, if needed, to reduce discomfort. You child might drool a bit more than normal once the anesthetic wears off. Some babies might need a bit of acetaminophen (Tylenol) afterward. You might also keep teething gel on hand.
After the procedure, you can soothe your baby with nursing or bottle feeding immediately. Your child will recover quite quickly, and success rates for the surgery are high.
Our office has completed numerous successful frenectomies on children of all ages using a soft tissue laser. The benefits of a frenectomy are usually positive and immediately noticeable. The only caution is that because the mouth heals so quickly (especially on an infant), this could cause premature reattachment at either the tongue site or the lip site, causing a new limitation in mobility and the persistence or return of symptoms.
At your consultation appointment, Dr. Christina Ramirez will review stretches with you to perform on each site being treated to help prevent reattachment. These stretches involve moving the lip or tongue to keep the muscles loose at the incision site.
You might also want to spend some time helping your child improve sucking quality. These involve rubbing the gums from side to side while your baby’s tongue follows along. You can also try to let your child suck on your finger while gently pulling it away.
For the last few decades, frenectomies are not something that dental schools have been educating future dentists on. Fortunately, Dr. Christina has completed several training courses to learn how to diagnose, educate, and treat the problems associated with the frenum—especially on infants who have trouble with breastfeeding.
If your doctor or lactation specialist has suggested a frenectomy for your infant, contact our office and talk to Dr. Christina about this common procedure. She can answer any questions you might have. Schedule an appointment today!