A frenectomy is an oral surgery procedure that treats a lip-tie or tongue-tie. It may be used to increase your tongue’s range of motion or help close a gap between two teeth. Frenectomy is a simple treatment that offers a wide range of benefits.
A frenectomy — sometimes called a frenulectomy — is an oral surgery procedure that treats lip-tie or tongue-tie. During the procedure, your surgeon cuts or modifies a frenum (also called frenulum) — a band of connective tissue that joins two areas. In your mouth, frena (the plural of frenum) can join your lips to your gums or your tongue to the floor of your mouth.
You have multiple frena in your mouth. Most of the time, they don’t cause any issues. However, if a frenum is too short or too tight, it can cause oral health problems and may have a negative impact on speech. In babies, it can cause issues with breastfeeding (chestfeeding) and swallowing.
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Most of the time, frenectomies are performed on babies who are having feeding issues or if there are speech concerns. But sometimes, frenectomies are necessary for adults, too. For example, sometimes a frenum can be so tight that it pulls your gums away from your teeth. A frenectomy frees the band of connective tissue, reducing the risk of gaps, gum recession and other oral health problems.
There are many reasons why you or your child might need a frenectomy. Your healthcare might recommend this procedure to correct a frenum that’s causing:
There are two main types of oral frenectomies:
Before your frenectomy, your healthcare provider will review your health history. They’ll also discuss the need for sedation and options for sedation, which may include nitrous oxide (laughing gas), oral sedation or IV sedation. Note: Sedation isn’t always necessary for a frenectomy. Your healthcare provider will help determine if it’s right for you or your child.
It depends on the situation. Babies can have frenectomies quickly and with little discomfort just a few weeks after delivery. No matter what your situation, your healthcare provider can help determine the best time for your frenectomy.
In infants, the frenulum is removed using scissors. Usually, this is quick and takes a few minutes. In older children and adults, your healthcare provider may numb your tissue around the frenum with local anesthesia. Once you’re comfortable, they’ll remove or modify your frenum using a scalpel or surgical scissors. In some cases, sutures (stitches) may be necessary to close the incision. Typically, the procedure takes 30 minutes or fewer.
Following your frenectomy, your healthcare provider will give you detailed postoperative instructions.
In infants, usually no further care is needed and they can resume feeding immediately.
You may need pain relievers to manage any discomfort and you may need to use antibacterial mouthwash. Your healthcare provider may want to see you in a week or two to monitor healing.
Frenectomy surgery offers a number of benefits. For example, this procedure can:
Like all procedures, a frenectomy is associated with possible risks and complications. Risks of frenectomy surgery include:
In infants, recovery is quick, and babies usually feed without difficulty immediately. In children and adults, recovery after a frenectomy usually takes about three to five days. Your healthcare provider will give you instructions for managing any discomfort during the healing phase.
Following a frenectomy procedure, most people can go back to work, school and other routines after one day.
You can sip liquids immediately after your procedure. You should wait to eat until the numbness from the anesthesia wears off. Stick with soft foods for the first few days, then gradually try more solid foods as you become more comfortable.
If you think a frenum is interfering with eating, speaking or other functions, call your healthcare provider right away. They can perform an examination to determine whether a frenectomy is necessary.
If you’ve already had frenectomy surgery, be sure to call your doctor if you develop a fever, pus or other signs of infection.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
If you or your child has a lip-tie or tongue-tie that’s interfering with function or quality of life, talk to your healthcare provider to see if a frenectomy is right for you. Frenectomy surgery is a quick, straightforward procedure that can address a wide range of issues. Risks and complications are minimal — and in most cases, frenectomy surgery is completed quickly.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/11/2022.
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