What is a frenectomy procedure in dentistry?

Published: 22nd February 2011
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There are different muscle attachments in the bottom and top jaws that may require excision under different circumstances. A frenectomy is performed to severe the muscle under tension reducing its effect in the oral cavity.

Although several of the muscles are present, it is not common for all but a select couple to need removed. The most common areas are adjacent to the two upper center front teeth, between the lower middle teeth and underneath the tongue. The following synopsis describes the 2 most involved areas.

We will consider each area separately and to see why each may require this procedure.

1. Between the top center teeth: This muscle connects the top lip to the gum tissue in the area of the top center teeth. There are 2 probable reasons why this muscle would be in need of the mentioned procedure.

A. As children are growing and maturing, a low muscle attachment that is attached to the gum tissue between the teeth can prevent the center two teeth from closing together in their normal position as the child ages. Surgery can allow the teeth to migrate to a natural position. Orthodontics may be required to help in the positioning.

A low muscle location that persists into adulthood can constantly tug on the gum tissue between the top center teeth. This can result in gingival recession leaving an unaesthetic black space between the teeth in question. A surgical procedure performed timely can prevent this occurrence.

2. Attachment underneath the tongue: This situation is also known as "tongue tied" or "ankyloglossia". Here the muscle restricts the tongue and the floor of the mouth and in severe cases, prevents movement of the tongue while possibly effecting speech. A frenectomy can provide increased tongue mobility and improved speech.

3. Between the bottom 2 center teeth: In addition to the above mentioned areas that exhibit frenum pull, the area that connects the lower lip to the gum tissue between the bottom middle two teeth can also be impacted. The reason this muscle may need released is because of its ability to cause serious gum recession. If gingival recession is pronounced enough, the risk of tooth loss is present.

Though out history a frenectomy procedure was performed by a scalpel and sutures. This method involves bleeding, stitches, increased healing times and pronounced discomfort. Modern techniques are performed with a soft tissue laser. This excision procedure executed with a laser is very quick, has very little to no bleeding, no stitches and minimal pain. Now this method is state of the art.

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