Soft Tissue Laser Surgery at Pediatric Dental Specialists

Laser Frenectomy

Dr. Will Brantley uses the latest in laser technology to treat lip and tongue ties in newborns, infants, children, and teens. We are pleased to offer treatment with the LightScalpel CO2 laser as an option for these issues, which has the benefit of providing greater surgical precision and a much faster working time than traditional treatment methods.

What is a Frenum?

A frenum (also known as a frenulum) is a band of tissue that connects various parts of the mouth. They are commonly found under the tongue, behind the lips and sometimes behind the cheeks.

Some people are born with a frenum that is too short or too thick, which can prevent the tongue from moving as freely as it should. Depending on the age of the child and the severity of the tongue’s restriction, this can lead to problems with infant feeding (breastfeeding or bottle feeding), speech development, eating solid foods, and more. When the anatomy causes problems in areas such as those mentioned above, we refer to the condition as a tongue tie or a lip tie. Fortunately, this can be corrected through a simple surgical procedure called a frenectomy.

What is a Frenectomy?

A frenectomy is a procedure to repair the frenum by eliminating its restriction. The goal is to remove excess tissue from the frenum to allow a greater range of motion in the tongue or lip. This can be performed with scissors or a laser and can generally be completed in minutes.

The age at which a frenectomy can be completed depends on the nature of symptoms that the patient develops. There are no age or size limitations that would prevent a patient from having the procedure done, but the health of the patient and any necessary sedation or anesthesia options would be discussed at a consultation appointment. For newborns and infants, the procedure can be completed as soon as they are discharged from the hospital.

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What is a lip tie?

A lip tie occurs when the tissue that connects the lip to the upper gums is too thick or too tight. Lip tie symptoms are mostly related to the frenum behind the upper lip, however the frenum behind the lower lip may create symptoms in older patients.

A lip tie can manifest in latching difficulties in newborns and infants. This will result in pain or discomfort for the mother when nursing and can sometimes cause symptoms such as reflux or gassiness.

What is a tongue tie?

The lingual (tongue) frenum is the small fold of tissue connecting the bottom of the tongue to the floor of the mouth. Tongue tie occurs when the frenum is too short , which prevents the tongue from moving as much as it should. The medical term for a tongue tie is ankyloglossia.

What are Tongue Tie Symptoms?

A tongue that appears notched, or heart shaped when stuck out is a sign of a tongue tie.  Other symptoms are difficulty sticking the tongue out past the lower front teeth, difficulty lifting the tongue to the upper teeth, or moving the tongue from side to side. Tongue ties in newborns and infants can cause difficulty with breastfeeding. Toddlers with tongue tie may have symptoms that include problems with eating, speaking, brushing their teeth, and swallowing.

How do I know if my child has a Tongue or Lip Tie problem?

The diagnosis for a tongue or lip tie is provided during a physical exam that includes a functional assessment of the patient.

Symptoms of tongue and/or lip tie in infants can include:

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  • Poor latch

  • Baby falls asleep while nursing

  • Colic symptoms

  • Reflux symptoms

  • Poor weight gain

  • Continuous feedings

  • Gumming or chewing of the nipple

  • Difficulty taking a pacifier or bottle

  • Creased, cracked, bruised or blistered nipples

  • Bleeding nipples

  • Incomplete breast drainage

  • Infected nipples or breasts

  • Plugged ducts

  • Mastitis (inflammation of the breast)

  • Nipple thrush

Recovery:
After laser frenectomy surgery your child may be fussy, irritable, or fatigued. Infants are able to nurse immediately after the procedure. Dr. Will will demonstrate and discuss recovery protocols.