A frenectomy is a surgical procedure during which an oral surgeon removes or loosens a band of muscle tissue that is connected to the lip, cheek or floor of the mouth. It is usually performed under local anesthetic with uneventful healing.
The frenum is part of the normal oral anatomy, but may sometimes restrict movement of the lip, cheek or tongue, or may impinge on the gingiva (gums). Occasionally, a large or wide frenum may inhibit normal function.
A labial frenum is a band of muscle from the lip that may attach to the gingiva, contributing to a space between the teeth. It most often affects the upper central incisors. The frenectomy may be recommended after orthodontic treatment to help stabilize the position of the teeth. Another indication for a frenectomy is a denture patient whose function is hindered in chewing. Frenectomies are occasionally performed for aesthetic considerations if the frenum prevents a natural smile.
Broad labial frenums on lower teeth may harm healthy gum tissue and hasten periodontal disease. In these cases, a frenectomy may be enhanced by a tissue graft from the palate. This procedure is most commonly performed by a periodontist.
Sometimes a thick frenum on the floor of the mouth may restrict movement of the tongue, preventing speech or chewing functions. It may also contribute to tooth decay since the patient cannot adequately use the tongue to sweep food from the teeth. A lingual or glossal frenectomy may be indicated on a toddler, depending on the extent of the restriction. It is most often performed by an oral surgeon. Difficulty in speech may be an early indication of the problem.
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