What does it mean when your dentist, recommends your child have an oral frenectomy? It simply means there’s an issue with a small flap of skin inside the mouth, called the frenum. There are three frena located in the mouth:
Buccal Frenum — connects your child’s gums to the insides of their cheeks
Labial Frenum — connects your child’s upper and lower lips to the gums at the front of the teeth
Lingual Frenum — connects the bottom of your child’s tongue to the mouth
You’ve seen your own frena many times, but it’s probably not a part of your body you spend much time thinking about. However, it’s more important than most people realize. When there’s a problem with your oral frena, you may be unable to eat or speak clearly. Infants with this problem may be unable to breastfeed or bottle-feed. Young children may lag behind in developmental milestones that involve speech and enunciation. For these reasons, issues with the frena are often diagnosed in infancy. The cure is a simple procedure called a frenectomy that removes this small flap of skin, allowing normal movement of the tongue or lips.
Should I Be Worried About My Child?
All parents worry, especially when it involves their child and a medical or dental procedure. However, a frenectomy is a very common solution. The procedure itself takes only minutes to perform, and most patients are fully recovered in 2-3 days. Your child may experience mild discomfort immediately following the procedure, but you can talk with your doctor regarding the best methods of pain relief.
What Are the Signs My Child May Need a Frenectomy?
Usually, when there is a problem with your child’s frena, you’ll know not long after birth. Symptoms include:
Inability to gain weight
Problems with breast- or bottle-feeding
Unexplained weight loss
Pain during breastfeeding for the mother
In older children, symptoms usually include the inability to speak clearly or the inability to stick out the tongue. Older children may also have difficulty eating or swallowing.
Who Diagnoses a Problem with the Frena?
Usually, your child’s pediatrician will be the first to mention the term ‘frenectomy.’ If your baby fails to gain weight as they should or is losing weight unexpectedly, your doctor will inspect the baby’s oral frena. If there’s a problem, you may be referred to a dentist or oral surgeon for further evaluation and treatment.
Sometimes, it’s actually an alert parent who first notices something is off about the way the baby feeds. In both situations, your infant needs immediate medical and dental care to resolve the problem.
In older children, it may be a speech therapist or your child’s teacher who first suspects something more than a simple speech impediment.
Call Your Dentist Today
If it has been a while since your child has been to the dentist, call Missoula Pediatric Dentistry to schedule an appointment. At Missoula Pediatric Dentistry, we specialize in taking care of children. Our dedicated staff is experienced and professional, but they’re fun, too. We understand the fears most children have regarding the dentist, and we do all we can to make sure your visits are always positive. Contact us today to book an appointment that fits your schedule.