There are many common treatments that children may undergo before they reach their teens. One of the most common treatments, particularly for young toddlers, is an oral frenectomy
A frenectomy is the removal of the piece of skin that connects the lips, cheek, or tongue to the jaw, preventing them from moving too loosely. The piece pictured on the right, called the frenum, may be too large and cause speech impairment, gapped teeth, and can even prevent some baby teeth from developing.
An abnormal frenum can also lead to more severe problems, such as intense pulling of the gums. When this happens, it causes the gums to prematurely recess away from the teeth, allowing too much of it to be exposed. The gum may even recede as far down as the root of the tooth and greatly increases people's risk to develop tooth decay, periodontal disease and even complete tooth loss. It may even cause what is known as a mucogingival defect, where the gums have completely deteriorated, even after tooth loss. These problems can become very problematic for some people. Speech impairment can be noticed in children aged as young as 12-18 months.
Having a frenectomy, fortunately, is very simple and usually only takes 10-15 minutes. It requires general anesthesia, and minimal surgical treatment that can be done in a variety of ways, depending on severity. The patient may experience some bleeding and a little discomfort. Recovery will only take a few weeks, depending on the extent of the issue and the procedure used.
Most commonly, a diode laser is used to make small incisions on the frenum. This offers patients the most comfort and the best recovery time, as opposed to using a scalpel. Severe problems, such as gum disease or mucogingival defects require more surgical treatments such as grafting (tissue transplanting) and tooth replacement. If you believe your child may be at risk, make an appointment soon.