You’ve been to the dentist enough to know the basics — you’re in and out after a quick cleaning, flossing and X-ray scan. But this time there was something different. Your dentist took a quick look at your gums, frowned and recommended that you get a surgery called a frenectomy sooner than later.
If you’re like most people, you probably haven’t ever heard of a frenectomy, and you’re understandably a little frightened and confused by the recommendation. But frenectomies are actually minor surgeries that can go a long way towards preserving your teeth for decades to come.
Whether your dentist referred you to a gum specialist or has the know-how to perform a small frenectomy in-house, keep reading. We’ll tell you what you can expect from this minor procedure.
What Is a Frenectomy?
If you lift up your upper gum, you’ll see a small stretch of muscle connecting your lip to the gums just above your front teeth. You should see something similar if you pull your bottom lip down and away from your teeth. This small flap of skin and muscle is called the frenulum. A frenectomy is a minor surgery that removes this small bit of connective tissue.
Why Do I Need a Frenectomy?
Your dentist might recommend a frenectomy for several reasons:
- If your gums have receded, the frenulum can pull the recessed gums back further, increasing the risk of infection, gum disease and tooth loss.
- The frenulum can get in the way of dentures, precluding a comfortable fit.
- The frenulum can strain the gums and start to pull your two front or bottom teeth apart, creating an unsightly gap.
Your dentist should give you a clear explanation of why you need a frenectomy and answer any questions you have about the procedure.
What Will the Process Look Like?
Usually, your gum surgeon or dentist will numb the area with a local anaesthetic, then snip and remove the frenulum. You’ll be sent home with stitches or a bandage that keeps the frenulum from re-growing. Your dentist will likely also prescribe you an antibiotic or antiseptic mouthwash to prevent infection.
Over-the-counter medications can keep the swelling down for the next day or so, but after those first few days of tenderness, you shouldn’t have much pain. Severe persistent pain is abnormal, so if you experience it, get in touch with your dentist immediately.
How Long Will Recovery Take?
Your dentist or gum surgeon will probably ask you to come back in for stitch removal after about a week. They might also have you come back in a few weeks after your stitches out to check that everything is healing normally.
What Is Tongue-Tie Surgery?
Tongue-tie surgery is a specific type of frenectomy for babies that refers to clipping the frenulum that attaches your tongue to the bottom of your mouth (look in a mirror, open your mouth and touch the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth to see the lingual frenulum).
Sometimes the frenulum prevents the baby’s mouth from latching properly, which makes breastfeeding challenging for mother and baby alike. If the frenulum is particularly short, it can also restrict tongue movement, which makes both speech and eating difficult.
If your dentist or doctor recommends tongue-tie surgery for your baby, feel free to ask as many questions as possible. You deserve to feel comfortable with the minor surgery and know as much about it as necessary for you to make an informed decision about your baby.
Whether you have further questions about frenectomies or you’re looking for dentistry for the whole family, visit Dental Smile Clinic today. We make it easy to schedule an appointment online, and once you get in touch, we’re happy to answer any of your dental questions about anything from frenectomies to implants and beyond.