What is a lingual frenulum?
Some children are born with a short lingual frenulum which is the band of tissue that connects the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth. When this band is too short, babies can be tongue-tied, called ankyloglossia, and have a hard time nursing or feeding from a bottle.
The tongue is one of the most important muscles for speech and swallowing so patients with a short frenulum may have difficulty speaking and swallowing. Ankyloglossia can also cause dental problems in children so it is very important to have a frenectomy done on your baby as soon as it is diagnosed.
If we determine that your child needs a frenectomy, we will refer you to either an ear, nose, and throat surgeon or to an oral surgeon, either of which will perform a lingual frenectomy on your child.
Lingual Frenectomy Procedure
A lingual frenectomy is a simple procedure with a short recovery time and can improve nursing, bottle feeding, eating, and speech. A lingual frenectomy is usually performed in either a doctor’s office or a hospital. Giving your child the ability to speak easily and receive proper nutrition are reason enough to proceed with a lingual frenectomy if they need it.
There are a few risks that come with a lingual frenectomy, as with any surgery. However, the benefits greatly outweigh any risks. Risks of a lingual frenectomy may include bleeding at the surgery site, infection, nerve damage, pain and swelling, and the general risks from anesthesia with the doctor will discuss with you.
The surgeon will administer a local anesthetic to numb the soft tissue around the frenulum. If a child is having the procedure, they may receive general anesthesia in order to keep them still and calm during the procedure. The doctor will then use either a scalpel or a soft tissue laser to make a small incision on the frenulum to release the tongue from the floor of the mouth. They will finish up by placing a few stitches in the area to promote healing.
Recovery After a Lingual Frenectomy
The incredible results from a lingual frenectomy will be immediate once the anesthesia wears off. It is perfectly normal to see some bleeding at the surgical site which can be managed with sterile gauze and a little gentle pressure. Your doctor will likely send you home with sterile gauze but if you need more, any pharmacy will have some.
Minor pain and swelling in the area can also be expected but over-the-counter pain medication will help ease any discomfort. A week after surgery, your child will be seen for a follow-up appointment with the surgeon to make sure everything is healing properly.
A lingual frenectomy is an easy procedure to greatly improve your child’s quality of life. If your baby is tongue tied, we can help you find the right surgeon for your family to resolve any issues your child has with eating and speaking.