8 Commonly Asked Questions About Frenectomy Procedures
A frenectomy, also called frenum surgery, is an operation that reduces the size of the frenum, the soft connective tissue that attaches the tongue to the bottom of the mouth and the lips to the upper and lower gums. A person with short frena (plural of frenum) will have limited mouth mobility, which can make breastfeeding, speaking, and eating difficult. A tongue tie is when a short frenum connects the tongue to the bottom of the mouth. A lip tie is when a small frenum connects the upper lip to the gums.
Eight Frenectomy FAQs
A frenectomy is a frequent operation in newborns. Like with any surgery, knowing what to expect may help parents prepare for their child's procedure. Here are answers to commonly asked questions about frenectomies in order to help you prepare for the procedure.
1. What are the signs that a child needs a frenectomy?
Short frena can influence how newborns feed and talk. They are usually noticed while the newborn is attempting to eat. Babies with a lip or tongue tie may struggle to latch onto the breast during nursing, take too long to feed, or get extremely gassy due to excessive air intake during feeding.
2. Is a frenectomy safe for older children?
Although most tongue or lip ties are discovered in infancy, it is not unusual for older children to have this condition. Speech or pronunciation difficulties, trouble swallowing, and a painful or sore mouth are all common signs of short frena in older children.
3. Who performs a frenectomy?
Although some doctors can perform a frenectomy, it is a dental operation that a dentist with the necessary skills and expertise should perform.
4. What is a frenectomy procedure like?
A frenectomy takes only a few minutes and is straightforward. While severing the frenum with a surgical tool, the child's head will be held firmly in place. It may cause only slight bleeding. Within a few days, the skin should heal. Newborns are typically ready to eat again about one hour after the procedure.
5. Will sedation be necessary for the child?
Frenectomy is often done with a local anesthetic, which numbs either the tongue or the lip to ensure that the child does not feel pain or discomfort when the frenum gets severed. Since the operation takes only a few minutes, it may not be essential to employ anesthesia in newborns. However, depending on their specific circumstances, older children may have a general anesthetic or a local anesthetic used along with sedation.
6. Are there risks of complications with frenectomy?
A frenectomy is typically a straightforward operation, and problems are uncommon. Excessive bleeding, infection, scarring, and injury to the tongue, nerves, or salivary glands are a few of the risks. But when the procedure is handled by a dental professional, the risk of complication is significantly low.
7. What happens if a lip tie is not corrected?
Any symptoms will persist if a lip tie is not corrected. In infants, bottle feeding or breastfeeding will be a challenge. There may be aversions and sensitivities when transitioning from liquids to solids due to a lack of endurance in the tongue. The child may avoid eating solids because it requires more effort.
As children become older, there may be problems with their craniofacial development. There will be no natural widening of the palate, since the tongue cannot touch the palate. Therefore, the face may appear elongated and thin, with a prominently arched palate. If a child has a tongue tie, their lower central incisor teeth will probably bend inward. Bi-labial words, stuttering, lisps, and poor mouth position are common as children learn to speak. Seasonal allergies may also be exacerbated due to open-mouth breathing during sleep.
8. Will frenectomy be enough to resolve breastfeeding issues?
Nursing parents are advised to engage with a lactation consultant to provide the best care for their baby. Additional nonsurgical treatment may not be necessary for certain newborns if there are no underlying issues with the skull, head, neck, or back. However, surgical excision of the frenum (for a lip tie or tongue tie) alone will not solve all the symptoms of a poor latch if there are additional issues at play. Treatments may include speech-language pathology for suckling, craniosacral therapy to release deep body tensions to decrease pain and dysfunction, and chiropractic treatment for nerve interference and possible subluxation or misalignment.
If you have additional questions about frenectomy, contact our dental office today to book an appointment.
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