Does My Child Need a Frenectomy?

5% of children are born with a condition where the connective tissue under their tongue, the lingual frenum, is too short. This condition is formally called ankyloglossia, more commonly called a “tongue-tie,” and it can cause problems with breastfeeding and speech because the tongue is unable to move properly.

Some infants also have a shorter labial frenum, which is the piece of tissue that connects the upper lip to the gums near the front teeth. This can cause problems with speech and dental development, as well as causing added risk of tooth decay and gum disease since it is harder to properly clean the teeth and gums in the area.

What To Expect From a Frenectomy?

In order to mitigate or prevent complications from either of these conditions, a dentist may recommend a simple procedure called a frenectomy. A frenectomy is when a dentist simply releases the lingual or labial frenum with a scalpel, surgical scissors, or a soft-tissue laser, and usually only takes about 15 minutes using a local anesthetic. After a frenectomy, the tongue or lip tie is released and it allows for normal function and restores the normal range of motion of the tongue.

It is important to know that not all children with a tongue or lip tie need to have a frenectomy performed. It is important that you consult with your dentist about the course of action that you should take. A frenectomy might be the best option for the following cases:

Your Child Has Problems Breastfeeding

If a newborn has trouble breastfeeding or it causes excessive pain, it may be a sign that a frenectomy is needed. A short lingual frenum can cause the infant to have issues with swallowing due to the tongue's motion being limited.

You Notice Speech Impediments

When your child begins to speak, there may be issues such as lisps. Some speech impediments are expected as your child learns to speak but if it continues it might indicate that a frenectomy is needed. A short lingual frenum causes the child to not be able to move the tongue properly to make certain sounds while a short labial frenum affects the movement of the upper lip during speech.

They Sleep with Their Mouth Open

If your child sleeps with their mouth open all the time, this can be a sign that they are unable to close their mouth properly. There are many causes for this but a short labial frenum is a common one.

Their Teeth Look Larger Than They Should

Gum recession can cause your child's teeth to look bigger than they should. Gum recession can be caused by the labial frenum being too tight and pulling the gum tissue. This can lead to a gap forming in the front teeth.

We Can Help

If your child is showing signs that their lingual or labial frenum is too short, don’t hesitate to book an appointment for them with Dr. Sam Alzayat at Willow Pediatric Dentistry. Dr. Alzayat will assess the situation and let you know if your child does, indeed, need a frenectomy.

Get in touch with us now to book your appointment.

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