Is my child “tongue-tied”? What’s a “laser frenectomy”?
Frenum is the name given to a tissue that attaches to an organ and prevents it from moving too far. In the mouth, we commonly see one just above the two upper front teeth (labial frenum), and one connecting the tongue to the floor of the mouth (lingual frenum). These structures may cause issues if they are too thick, too short, or just poorly positioned. The labial frenum most commonly requires treatment in conjunction with orthodontic care, such as addressing an exaggerated space between the upper front teeth. The lingual frenum is most commonly released to deal with a “tongue-tied” child who may have problems latching during breastfeeding, developing speech, and/or, having gingival health issues later in life. Other frenum related issues include discomfort of the gums, especially while brushing, formation of cavities from trapped plaque, recession of the gums due to the constant pull by the frenum, and esthetic and functional problems from an anomalous frenum.
The treatment of a poorly attached frenum is called a frenectomy. While historically a scalpel and sutures were required for surgical release, new technology has made the procedure very quick, with excellent results that are easily tolerated by young children as well as adults. Frenectomies can now be done with the soft tissue lasers, commonly without any post treatment bleeding or sutures, and virtually no post treatment down time. The laser technology allows this procedures early in life, prior to development of issues commonly associated with the disturbances caused by a pulling frenum. A dentist who is trained to diagnose and render the best treatment options should evaluate each individual child.
Hope this is useful for you and may help some tongues and lips in finding their overdue freedom at last.
Dr J is a board certified pediatric dentist, serving his hometown in San Diego at one the most respected specialty practices, Scripps Pediatric Dentistry. He is an honors graduate of UC Berkeley, and UCLA School of Dentistry. His specialty training was completed as Chief Resident at UNC, one of only 2 three year pediatric programs in the US. He is an associate professor at UCLA in pediatric dentistry and on staff at Rady Children’s Hospital. He is also a proud father to two girls.