You may have noticed a small tissue fold in your mouth that connects your lower gums to the bottom of your tongue or that connects your upper gums to your upper lip. Each tissue is a frenum, and in their normal formation, they do not affect the movement, function, or appearance of the mouth’s features. However, an abnormally prominent frenum can cause problems for the teeth, gums, and supporting bone and may need to be trimmed.
A frenectomy is a common and simple procedure to reduce the frenum. Children and teens often benefit from the procedure, which can prevent or address dental problems as their teeth develop. Adults may elect to have the surgery as well if they are experiencing issues related to the frenum.
Dental and orthodontic professionals often refer frenectomy patients to Dr. Israel Puterman. As a periodontist with years of experience in oral surgery, he brings a practiced and gentle approach to the procedure. The surgery usually takes 15 minutes or less. Patients who have the procedure should be able to return to school or work the next day.
The Purpose of a Frenectomy
A prominent lingual frenum—the frenum attached to the tongue—can restrict the tongue’s movement. Some doctors refer to this as being “tongue tied.” Over time, the condition can affect the alignment of teeth, inhibit jaw development, cause speech problems, and make it harder to clear away food particles. Oftentimes there are psychological ramifications, as a result. A frenectomy can address each of these issues for patients.
A labial frenum—tissue that attaches to the gums and between the top middle teeth— can hinder the development of the gum tissue between the teeth and cause its volume to shrink. The frenum can also prevent the two middle teeth from moving into proper alignment. Orthodontists may request that patients have a frenectomy to help eliminate a gap between the upper teeth.
Beyond these issues, a prominent frenum on either the upper or lower gums can cause gum recession if left untreated. Teeth may appear longer than normal or have exposed roots as a result of gum recession. For these patients, Dr. Puterman may need to conduct both a frenectomy and a gum graft to rehabilitate the area.
How a Frenectomy Works
Patients begin with an initial consultation at Dr. Puterman’s practice. He talks with them about the problems that they may be experiencing, conducts a thorough examination, and determines whether they are a good candidate for the procedure. If an area dentist or orthodontist has recommended the patient to his practice, Dr. Puterman will coordinate with that professional to produce the desired outcome.
During a frenectomy, Dr. Puterman will remove the frenum that is restricting the movement of the tongue or preventing the upper teeth from properly aligning. He will prioritize patient care and comfort as he works gently to remove the obstruction, and he will focus on sculpting a natural-looking and cosmetically appealing result.
What Patients Can Expect with a Frenectomy
Dr. Puterman typically will complete a frenectomy procedure in a matter of minutes. The surgery does not require a dental laser and is relatively non-invasive.
Depending on the surgery, frenectomy patients may choose whether or not they want to be awake through the process. Patients may elect to have the procedure under local anesthesia, in which case they should feel only pressure and no pain during surgery. However, some patients may prefer to sleep through the entire procedure. Dr. Puterman is one of the few providers in the area who is certified to conduct both oral and IV sedation, and will discuss these options with his patients.
A frenectomy offers a lot of benefits with a short recovery. Patients can expect to feel little discomfort after the surgery, and by the next day, they should be ready to return to normal activities. Dr. Puterman has also spent years integrating pain management techniques into his practice and can advise those in his care about ways to promote healing.
As a result of a lingual frenectomy, patients should be able to speak easier, and they should be able to clear away food particles with no effort. The improvement is usually immediate and significant.
Once a labial frenectomy has healed, the patient’s orthodontist should have a clearer path for treatment. Removing the excess tissue should allow the orthodontist to fix the gap between the front teeth. The procedure will also help patients avoid gum recession that might otherwise require grafting.
If your dentist or orthodontist has recommended treatment or if you have experienced problems with being “tongue-tied” and want to explore surgery, contact Dr. Puterman’s practice. Frenectomy patients can schedule an appointment online or by phone at (301) 652-0939.