Do you know the real meaning of the term “tongue-tied”? It’s a common expression for not knowing what to say or feeling embarrassed and unable to speak at a certain moment. But the real meaning of being “tongue-tied” is physiological.
A tongue-tie is often observed in childhood. Children with a tongue-tie have a gap between their front teeth caused by a band of connective tissue, which affects speech, oral health, and even a child’s appearance and confidence. The good news is, if your child has a tongue-tie, it can be treated by a frenectomy. It’s a simple periodontal procedure with a lasting positive impact on your child’s oral health, speech, and self-confidence.
Does your child have a tongue-tie? Our periodontists in Mississauga can help. Learn what a frenectomy is and how this procedure can resolve a tongue-tie during a child’s most crucial formative years of development.
What is a frenum and how does it cause a tongue-tie?
The frenum is a band of connective tissue that connects the tip of the tongue to the floor of the mouth (lingual frenum), the lips to the gums above the two front teeth (labial frenum), or the gums to the insides of the cheeks (buccal frenum). Simply, this piece of tissue shouldn’t be there.
This connective tissue can cause developmental and cosmetic concerns for children. Depending on its location and size, it restricts the movement of the tongue, lips, or cheeks. This can make it difficult for children to learn how to speak. In infants, the presence of a frenum can even make it hard to breastfeed.
What is a frenectomy?
Luckily, the frenum can be removed early on. In fact, periodontists recommend removing the frenum as early as possible during childhood, so a child can achieve developmental milestones, beginning with feeding and all the way to speech. By removing this tissue earlier on, parents can prevent their children from experiencing difficulties with breastfeeding and talking, along with self-confidence issues.
So, what exactly does a frenectomy entail?
A frenectomy is a periodontal treatment that involves removing the frenum. Your periodontist can remove this connective tissue to treat the tongue-tie, as well as its impacts on the development of the front teeth and other developmental milestones.
When should a frenectomy be performed?
As parents, it’s perfectly normal to be worried about putting your child through a procedure, especially when they’re very young. You may be concerned about their safety when their still-developing bodies are put through a surgery.
Performing a Frenectomy in Infancy
So, before you worry, it’s important to remember that a frenectomy is a simple procedure with a long-term positive impact. More importantly, it’s crucial to perform it in the earliest years of development.
This is because periodontists note that the most effective way to treat a tongue-tie is by removing a frenum before the teeth have started to come in. This means, it’s best to perform a frenectomy while the child is still a baby. Removing a frenum in infancy ensures that there isn’t any extra tissue that prevents the front teeth from growing properly.
Performing a Frenectomy After the Diastema is Closed
If a frenectomy isn’t performed as early as possible, your periodontist can still treat the frenum, although with additional measures. Sometimes, the tongue-tie isn’t so obvious until a child exhibits developmental issues, such as difficulty with speech and communication. Even more troublesome is when the frenum is only detected by the time the permanent front teeth have grown.
When the frenum remains as the permanent teeth have grown in, it creates a space between the teeth. To treat it, your periodontist will first have to recommend braces. Once the braces are in, your periodontist will monitor the spacing between the teeth and reevaluate the frenum to confirm if it is pushing the teeth apart; if it isn’t a frenectomy may not be necessary anymore.
However, if a frenectomy is still required, your periodontist will advise you as to the best timeline for this treatment. This ensures that the braces are successful in treating the gap between the teeth, and the frenectomy to be effective in the long run.
How is a frenectomy performed?
The frenectomy is a simple procedure performed by your periodontist to remove the frenum. It is quite straightforward in the hands of a qualified and experienced periodontist. Below are the steps of a frenectomy:
- Your periodontist will apply a topical numbing gel and local anesthetic. If needed, they may also provide nitrous oxide or laughing gas to help your child with anxiety.
- Then, your periodontist will sever the frenum. They may create an incision to remove it, or use a laser which cauterizes the site as it cuts the tissue. This reduces bleeding and discomfort, as well as lowers the risk of infection.
- After the frenum is removed, your periodontist may suture the treatment site. If sutures are needed, these will typically dissolve in a few days after the frenectomy.
Similar to the procedure itself, recovery from a frenectomy is also simple. Your child will have to avoid strenuous activity for the next 48 hours to prevent excessive bleeding and swelling. If they are feeling pain or discomfort, your periodontist may recommend taking pain medications.
After a Frenectomy: Maintaining Results
Finally, your periodontist may recommend additional measures to ensure a successful frenectomy. This includes wearing a bonded retainer for at least a year to keep the spacing of the teeth stable, as well as to support the bone and gum around the affected teeth in adjusting to their new position.
Ask Our Periodontists in Mississauga About Your Child’s Frenectomy
As you’ve learned above, sooner is better. It’s crucial to speak with one of our periodontists in Mississauga right away about your child’s tongue-tie. Periodontal Associates is dedicated to ensuring that your child achieves all developmental milestones, including speech and physical development of the mouth.
The best way that we can ensure this is through timely diagnosis of the frenum and taking steps towards treating it as soon as possible. Our commitment at Periodontal Associates is a safe and comfortable frenectomy for children. Through an early frenectomy, we can prevent long-term issues and avoid the need for additional treatment as your child grows up.
Does your child have a tongue-tie? Book your visit to Periodontal Associates today, and learn how our periodontists in Mississauga perform a frenectomy to treat your child.