We often assume that all dental issues concern our teeth, but sometimes the cause may be more about our anatomy than our teeth. This is often the case for what’s commonly referred to as a lip tie.
A lip tie is a condition where the skin of the upper lip is attached to the gums in a way that prevents lip movement. To correct the problem, your dentist will need to perform a labial frenectomy.
Never heard of this procedure? No worries! We’ll tell you everything you need to know about this common practice, as well as the benefits of a labial frenectomy.
What is a Tongue Tie?
The labial frenum is a tissue that connects the center of the upper gums (between the two front teeth) to the upper lip. If this frenum goes down too far on the gum tissue, it can hinder lip movement and eventually cause a large gap between the two front teeth. If it’s too tight, the labial frenum can also cause gum recession by pulling the gums off the jawbone.
There are other issues associated with an abnormal labial frenum, including:
- Mouth Breathing – A tight labial frenum doesn’t allow the lips to seal, causing open mouth posture, irregular airway development, and abnormal jaw growth.
- Diastema – Diastema is a large gap in between the teeth. In the case of labial frenum, tight or low frena tissue develops a gap between your central incisors.
- Gum Tissue – As your lips move, the constant tug from the labial frenum pulls away gum tissue from your tooth and exposes the root. Ouch!
- Poor Oral Care – If you have a tight or low labial frenum, then you are at greater risk for developing other oral issues like tooth decay or gingivitis.
- Lip Ties – A lip tie can make latching and breastfeeding difficult for a new baby.
If your dentist detects a tongue tie or other issue with the labial frenum, he or she may suggest a labial frenectomy.
What is a Labial Frenectomy?
Frenectomies are an oral procedure where a removes the frenum with a laser. the labial frenum. It’s possible for some kids to outgrow a labial frenum when their top two teeth erupt; however, if the labial frenum is causing pain or discomfort to younger children, your dentist may recommend performing a frenectomy before the permanent teeth come in.
A labial frenectomy is a quick, safe procedure that can be completed in your dentist’s office. During the procedure, your pediatric or general dentist starts by numbing the area and making a small incision to relax the frenum. This incision releases the frenum from being so tight, or the dentist may choose to fully remove it. Sutures are only necessary depending on the size and severity of the frenum issue. A more modern technique utilizes laser surgery, causing less tissue damage and less bleeding for improved healing post-procedure.
Benefits of a Labial Frenectomy
Most kids experience immediate benefits following a successful labial frenectomy. The actual dental process usually only takes a few minutes and is pretty simple to complete. Though it is technically a surgery, the patient is in and out in no time with minimal discomfort in the days following.
With that in mind, the benefits of a labial frenectomy often outweigh any risks. The benefits include the following:
- Improved bite function
- Reduced pain and discomfort
- Increased self-confidence in young adults and teens
- Eliminated tooth gap between the two front teeth
When it comes to addressing your or your child’s lip tie, it’s important to consult with your dentist to see if he or she recommends treatment. Keeping up with healthy hygiene habits –– like brushing and flossing twice daily and seeing your dentist for regular cleanings –– is still important.
Here at Endodontic Specialists of Colorado, we believe that everyone deserves a healthy, beautiful smile that lasts a lifetime. Contact us today to learn how we can restore your smile!