A Frenum is a fold of soft tissue or muscle connecting the lips, cheek or tongue to the jawbone. Occasionally a frenum might be exceptionally short, thick, or tight, or may extend too far down along the tongue or the gum. When a frenum is positioned in such a way as to interfere with the normal alignment of teeth or to constrict the movement of the tongue or lips, it can be excised with a very simple surgical procedure called a Frenectomy.
Apart from being found in the mouth, frenum tissue is also found in other body parts such as the brain, digestive tract and even external genitalia. However, it is very rare that any kind of surgical removal of this tissue is performed in these parts of the body.
Invisalign – Sometimes a frenum can be attached too high on the gums causing either gum recession or spaces to appear between teeth. The procedure to remove this is called labial Frenectomy and involves the removal of soft tissue attachment between the two upper front teeth as the gap between the teeth can again be pushed apart by the prominent frenum, even after it has been initially closed via orthodontic treatment such as braces or Invisalign.
Tongue Tied – A lingual Frenectomy is the removal of the lingual frenum or the tissue under the tongue. In some cases, if the tissue is attached too closely to the tip of the tongue, it can interfere with speech and proper tooth development. A lingual Frenectomy is a fairly common procedure for children who may be “tongue tied” and is sometimes referred to as clipping the tongue. After the procedure, the tongue can usually be completely extended and becomes fully mobile and speech is no longer restricted.
Dentures – When a denture patient’s lips move, the prominent frenum pulls and loosens the denture which can be quite upsetting and distressing. The Frenectomy surgery is often done to help dentures fit better and not be dislodged by the prominent frenum.
The Frenectomy procedure is a simple surgical procedure that generally takes less than thirty minutes to complete. It’s usually carried out using either a scalpel or a soft tissue laser. Patients having a laser Frenectomy must remain perfectly still during the procedure.
When conducted with a soft tissue laser, the surgery tends to cause very little bleeding, does not require sutures, and often results in very little post-procedure discomfort. The procedure is performed using local anaesthesia, sometimes with intravenous sedation as well.
Frenectomies will usually take a couple of weeks to completely heal. You may have to take over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs like Ibuprofen to relive any pain that you may have.
You should rinse with saltwater or an antiseptic mouthwash such as Chlorhexidine mouthwash in order to keep the surgical area clean. You should brush carefully around the area and floss daily as well.
If you have had Frenectomy using a scalpel, you will have resorbable sutures which should disappear by themselves within a couple of weeks. You should go back to see your dentist after two weeks to remove any sutures that have not resorbed and for your dentist to check that good healing has occurred.
Like many other surgical procedures, there can be some pain, swelling, bruising, tenderness, gum scarring and bleeding after Frenectomy surgery. If the Frenectomy operation does not solve the problem completely then it may have to be repeated. Redoing a lingual Frenectomy is common whilst labial Frenectomies are less likely to be repeated.
Occasionally nerve damage may occur after Frenectomy surgery. This damage may be in the form of a slight tingling sensation around the surgical area to total numbness of the area. Nerve damage in this area may only be temporary, and after a few weeks, sensations in the area may increase. On rare occasions, the nerve damage persists, and feeling around the surgery area is not regained.
Frenectomies are carried out by experienced dentists or specialist oral surgeons. Our dentists have the skills and experience in performing surgical procedures such as Frenectomies and our Specialist Oral Surgeons (Dr. Dejan Dragisic and Dr. Hassan Taqvi) are both on the General Dental Council’s specialist list for Oral Surgery.
There is variation in the cost of Frenectomy surgery depending on case complexity and surgery time required to complete the task. Cost of Frenectomy surgery is from £250. Your dentist will provide you with a full written treatment plan and quote for the Frenectomy surgery at your consultation visit.
To read questions and answers from experts about Frenectomy see our Cosmetic Dentistry Forum.
Our Practice is open seven days a week from 8am till 11pm. You can book a consultation with one of our experienced dentists by calling 0208 547 9997 or emailing us for further information or to arrange a consultation.