A frenectomy can be scary for children to grasp. There’s something jarring about cutting out a body part. But while frenectomies can be a frightening prospect, they can provide considerable relief for those who need them. Babies and children, in particular, may encounter complications that come with short or thick frenum near the lips and tongue. Children with these features are said to be “tongue-tied” or “lip-tied.” Fortunately, a frenectomy treats tongue tie and lip tie in children.
To see if a frenectomy is the best option for your child, let’s first determine what a frenectomy is. In a nutshell, a frenectomy takes out the frenum (which is plural for frenulum), which we defined as “a thin tissue membrane” that connects specific tissues in the mouth. The labial frenum join the gums and the lips, while the lingual frenum connect the tongue to the mouth base. The frenum primarily stabilize the lips and tongue while keeping your teeth in alignment.
Sometimes, however, the frenum do not develop as intended, which causes problems in your child’s day-to-day activities and development. And while a frenectomy treats tongue tie and lip tie in children, how sure are we that it is the right course of treatment for your child? Here’s how to tell.
Children with problematic frenum typically get frenectomies
One of the main frenum-related complications in young children is ankyloglossia. This condition occurs while the child develops in the womb. At birth, the baby’s tongue has a limited range of motion, which becomes a problem while feeding.
Breastfeeding babies with ankyloglossia, in particular, may have a hard time taking in their mother’s milk because of this. Typically, the tongue helps the child latch onto the breast and swallow the milk. In ankyloglossia, however, the tongue curls against it instead, limiting the baby’s consumption. This condition gets worse with a lip tie—with this, babies cannot move their lips properly, therefore interfering with their ability to nurse further.
It’s for this reason that babies serve as the best patients for frenectomies. At this age, the frenum is thin enough to snip without the baby feeling pain. And while some children learn to work around it over time, getting a frenectomy early on can prevent further complications in the future.
The maldeveloped frenum can cause misaligned teeth
While problems with breastfeeding can be grown out of, the problematic frenum can still do a number on your teeth. The thick labial frenum can drive a wedge between your front teeth, which in turn affects the rest of the teeth.
Aside from misaligned teeth, however, the pull of tight labial frenum can cause the gums to recede over time. This recession can expose the roots, which makes them more vulnerable to acid attacks and tooth decay.
If the dentist finds that frenum problems cause the misalignment, they may recommend a frenectomy as the next course of action.
It might be a little daunting for your little one to get their frenum operated on. Fortunately, more options can make it less stressful for them. Laser surgery, for instance, is a quicker alternative to the conventional cutting methods and produces less bleeding. There’s no need to worry about stitches and other post-operation woes.
But all the same, you’ll need to make sure your child keeps the wound clean and limits their movement on the area some days after.