A frenulum is a piece of tissue that prevents an organ from moving. There is a frenulum that attaches your upper lip to the gums, while another connects the lower lip to the gums. A frenulum that is too short or thick, will cause problems in speech patterns and tooth misalignment. In infants, a shortened frenulum underneath the tongue will inhibit breastfeeding. When the frenulum disrupts movement, growth, or development, corrective action is necessary to resolve the situation.
A frenectomy is a minor surgical procedure that is performed in your dentist’s office. It can be performed with either a scalpel or laser and takes less than 15 minutes. Using a laser causes very little bleeding and does not require stitches. A laser also results in less postoperative discomfort and a shorter healing time. Young children and infants are put under general anesthesia for the procedure and adults have the procedure performed using local anesthesia. If your child needs a frenectomy, there is nothing to worry about. The procedure is very successful and causes minimal discomfort.
At Rock Valley Dental we offer tethered oral tissues (TOTS) frenectomy procedures to patients of all ages based on literature demonstrating that lip and tongue ties are linked to many growth and developmental issues including breastfeeding difficulty, poor jaw and facial development, malocclusion, speech issues, mouth breathing, infant reflux, failure to thrive and sleep airway disorders. More recent research in the area of sleep medicine has even demonstrated the presence of an untreated tongue tie at birth is associated with an increased likelihood of Obstructive Sleep Apnea in the future.
Due to this knowledge, we prefer to treat tongue ties as early as possible, to not only assist with breastfeeding issues, but to encourage the correct tongue motor patterns and rest position on the top of the mouth to allow for the most proper facial and jaw development as the child ages.
Frenectomy procedures are not just for infants, research has demonstrated benefits of the procedure at older ages, especially to assist cosmetically and to prevent sleep disordered breathing. Because of the potential negative lifelong consequences of a tongue tie, we believe in treating a tongue tie at any age.
Unfortunately, due to lack of awareness and misconception, especially with identification of the less obvious posterior component of a tongue tie, tongue tie diagnosis is often unrecognized. At Rock Valley Dental, we can provide you with a thorough and proper TOTS evaluation by a qualified dentist or myofunctional therapist.
We perform frenectomy procedures with techniques that are specific to what our patients require. Due to this, both laser and/or scissors may be utilized for the treatment. We provide all patients the best follow up protocol to assist with frenectomy results, and if warranted for infants, we can work with lactation consultants or other body workers such as physical therapists, chiropractors, myofunctional therapists or craniosacral providers to best re-establish proper breastfeeding and alignment and mobility for the infant.
We believe it is important that patients and their caregivers are informed and educated in the potential consequences of untreated lip or tongue ties, and respect any decision towards whether or not they treat the condition. A frenectomy can be safe, simple and very beneficial in many key areas of general health and development. Please contact our office for more information if you have concerns about a tongue tie or frenectomy procedure.
Additional ResourcesTOTS: What is TOTS and how can we identify it?
Dr. Kotlow’s website: A excellent website of tongue tie information and resources
Dr. Ghaheri’s blog and website: a great blog and website for additional tongue tie reading
Short Lingual Frenulum (tongue tie) and Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Children
Short Lingual Frenulum (Tongue- tie) link to sleep apnea
Tongue Tie Education-Awareness Material about Tongue Ties