At North Raleigh Periodontics, frenectomies, also known as frenulectomies or frenotomies, are one of the many procedures I perform. There are two main types: labial and lingual. The labial frenum is the strip of tissue that connects the upper or lower lip to the midline of the maxillary and mandibular gingiva. The technical definition of a frenectomy is the removal or release of mucosal and muscle elements of a labial or lingual frenum that is associated with a pathological condition, or interferes with proper oral development or treatment. But what does all that mean, and what exactly does a frenectomy procedure involve?
The labial frenum is essentially an anatomical landmark. It is the soft-tissue remnant in the upper or lower lip left over from the development of the fetus in utero. The frenum serves no useful purpose; instead, it tugs on the gum tissue between the teeth where the frenum attaches. If it is particularly thick or attaches high in between the teeth, it could force the teeth to separate or prevent the teeth from being orthodontically moved together, causing a gap. The shortness of the frenum could inhibit the individual from eating or speaking normally, and the frenum may also cause gum recession because the frenum tissue can pull excessively on the gum. To prevent such effects or begin the reversal process of tooth gaps or recession, many people choose to get frenectomy procedures.
During the frenectomy, I snip the frenum to release it so that it partially detaches from the gum. I then reposition it up into the vestibule so it is no longer tugging on the tissue. The frenum may sometimes reattach over time, so to prevent reattachment I scar the frenal tissue down. The procedure itself lasts just a few moments, and patients can return to their normal daily activities immediately. This procedure is very delicate, and there is very little postoperative soreness. It can be done in the office under minimal local anesthetic.
On the whole, this brief, minimally invasive procedure facilitates a plethora of long-term benefits. After the labial frenectomy, the patient experiences decreased chances of relapse of orthodontic therapy (i.e. braces), less likelihood of recession, and more efficient oral hygiene.