The lips and tongue are designed to work in a very particular way. They help you get through normal daily tasks, such as eating and talking. But every now and then, the connective tissue that runs between each one can be a little too tight and it limits the range of motion. This can make doing all those things a little too tough.
Many babies and infants are in need of this treatment. Thankfully, dentists can perform a rather simple procedure, known as a frenectomy, that can reward the patient with a lot of benefits.
What is a Frenectomy?
A frenectomy, in general, refers to any type of procedure where soft tissue on the body is cut. In dentistry, there are two types of frenectomies that we commonly do - a labial frenectomy and a lingual frenectomy.
A labial frenectomy is one that involves tissue connecting the lips to the gums, located above the front teeth. Sometimes this is necessary in order to push forward with orthodontic treatment. Or, for adults, to help secure properly fitting dentures or oral appliances.
A lingual frenectomy is one that involves the connective tissue under the tongue. And though the name of this condition is ankyloglossia, those in need of this procedure are often referred to as being tongue-tied. It can be performed on tiny babies to promote healthy nursing or to help correct speech issues in toddlers and those that are older as it allows a wider range of motion. Having a restricted lingual frenum is also associated with underdevelopment of the jaws and sleep disordered breathing in children.
Most infants do very well after a frenectomy. Though the experience of each will vary. The breakdown below will give you a general idea of what to expect after the procedure. Most healing improvements - especially when it comes to sucking for feedings - happen within 2 to 4 weeks.
The First 3 Days: Within the first couple of days you can expect your baby to be a little sore and likely be a little more fussy than normal. To combat any pain, consider giving over-the-counter pain relievers, such as Motrin or Tylenol.
As the body prepares to heal, you will notice a white patch appearing over the site. This is normal. And during this time, you may also find your baby has difficulty latching on to eat. Talk to your dentist or pediatrician to have an alternate plan should this happen.
Don’t worry - this is all temporary.
Week One: As the week progresses, the pain will begin to dissipate - and so will the fussiness. Continue to give over-the-counter pain relievers as needed. You will continue to notice the white patch over the site. Again, this is all part of healing.
Weeks Two to Four: That healing white patch should begin to shrink - and you will notice the return of your happy, joyful infant. Latching and sucking have returned, but they may not be as consistent as normal. Remember, your baby has to re-learn how to do these things now that their tongue has more freedom.
Weeks Four to Six: By this time, the white patch should be gone and you should see a new frenulum in its place. Your little one should be doing great by this point and life should have returned to normal.
Signs of Complications
There are a few things that you may want to keep and eye out for that could signal that something isn’t right. Should your infant begin exhibiting any of the following, contact your dentist:
- Bad odor coming from surgical area
- Oozing pus from the site
- Tingling sensations (if your child is able to describe this)
- Severe pain
- Severe swelling
- Fever and/or chills
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing (seek emergency care right away)
- Excessive bleeding
Frenectomies at Dental Buddies of Vero Beach
It is important to have your child’s first visit with the dentist by one year of age. This allows the dentist to examine your child’s development. And, it also helps in determining whether or not a labial or lingual frenectomy may be necessary.
The team at Dental Buddies of Vero Beach are here for all of your child’s oral health needs. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, contact us at 772-226-6888. Or, request an appointment online.