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General Dentist: What Is a Frenectomy?
If you notice tongue-tie in your child, you should turn to your general dentist for help and advice. Your dentist will perform a physical exam to find out what is going on before recommending the ideal course of action. Sometimes dentists decide to wait. This is because the condition may not cause problems or the lingual frenum may loosen. If needed, your general dentist may recommend a procedure known as a frenectomy.
People have frenulums in various parts of the mouth. The frenulum that is located under the tongue is referred to as the lingual frenum. Sometimes a lingual frenum may impair oral function. This causes tongue-tie, which is a condition where the movement of the tongue is restricted. This occurs when the lingual frenulum is too short, tight or attached near the tongue tip.
For some people, this condition is not much of an issue. But, for others, it can lead to problems. Some people usually find it hard to lick around the lips or have difficulty lifting the tip of the tongue inside their mouth. This means they can have difficulties with speaking and eating. People often find it hard to pronounce particular letters of the alphabet.
Babies are usually affected by tongue-tie. The condition can affect the ability of a baby to breastfeed and sometimes even bottle-feed. A baby may not be able to drink enough to gain weight. Sometimes, the lingual frenulum loosens by itself and separates from the tongue. But, in particular cases, it may have to be divided. This may involve the procedure called frenectomy, which helps release the tongue.
A frenectomy is a surgical procedure that helps to cut the lingual frenum. Only serious cases of tongue-tie are divided. For babies less than three months old, the procedure may be performed with topical or local anesthesia. Occasionally, it is done using general anesthesia.
If topical or local anesthesia is used, the area has to be numbed. The head of the baby will then be held firmly before the frenum is snipped with either a laser or surgical scissors. Babies can breastfeed just after the procedure. This procedure has minimal risks and problems. Tongue movement is often normal within a few months after the procedure.
Older children and adults may be given a local or general anesthetic before the procedure. Stitches are required when the tongue-tie has been divided surgically. The mouth often heals after a few weeks. After the procedure, adults and older children may need speech therapy. The major risk of a frenectomy is related to the use of anesthetic. Just like any other surgery, there is a risk of infection, bleeding and damage to the tongue or areas around it.
Contact your general dentist
Tongue-tie can lead to breastfeeding problems and can also affect speaking and eating. Sometimes it may be necessary to cut the lingual frenum. This can be achieved by a frenectomy, which is a surgical procedure that helps divide it. The procedure involves the use of a laser or surgical scissors. A frenectomy is usually successful and can prevent any dental, speech or eating problems. You should contact your general dentist if you notice any symptoms of tongue-tie in your child.
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