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What Is a Frenum?

A frenum is a small membrane that attaches the lips, cheeks, or tongue to the bone in the mouth. The labial frenums are connected to the top, and bottom lips, and the lingual frenum is located underneath the tongue. A frenum is a part of the normal oral anatomy, but a significant or wide frenum may inhibit normal function. When a frenum is too large or wide, it can restrict movement of the lip, cheek, or tongue or may impinge on the gums and cause a recession.

Why Are They Important?

Frenums can cause problems during all phases of life. Infants with a large frenum can have difficulty breastfeeding, and it can cause pain for the mothers. Toddlers just learning to speak may get tongue-tied due to a large frenum on the underside of the tongue. Ankyloglossia or tongue-tied is a common oral anomaly where a thick frenum on the floor of the mouth decreases the tongue's mobility. A frenectomy is often recommended to restore chewing and speech function to the tongue.

A thick labial frenum is a band of muscles from the lip that may attach to the gingiva, contributing to a space between the teeth. This is often seen between the top or bottom front teeth. In combination with braces, a frenectomy may be recommended to help stabilize the position of the teeth.

A large labial frenum that attaches to the lip can constantly pull and tug on the gums. The gums will begin to recede, and the bone will start to resorb. This often leads to the severe recession, root exposure, and periodontal disease in the localized area.

What Is a Frenectomy?

A frenectomy is a surgical procedure that removes or loosens a band of tissue (frenum) that is connected to the lip, cheek, or tongue. With innovative technology, most patients are back to complete normal function within a few days. Please contact your dentist if you think you may need a frenectomy.

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