The frena are bands of muscle tissue that sits under the upper lip (connecting to the upper gum line) and under the tongue. The frena do not really play an important role in oral functions, but usually do not interfere with these functions either. However, if an individual has an excess amount of frenulum tissue, it can lead to aesthetic or functional issues. In these cases, a frenectomy can be performed. A frenectomy removes abnormal frenulum tissue from under the upper lip or tongue to restore oral functions and improve the appearance of the smile. Here, Dr. Kellyn Hodges discusses the characteristics that make for ideal frenectomy candidates at her Philadelphia, PA, orthodontic practice.
Individuals with a Gap Between the Front Teeth
Numerous individuals have a gap between the two upper front teeth. This gap compromises the aesthetics of the smile, leaving many feeling self-conscious about their appearance. If malocclusion problems are the cause of gapped teeth, Dr. Hodges will recommend orthodontic treatment. In most cases, orthodontics can successfully improve the spacing of the teeth. However, if a patient has excessive frenulum tissue under the upper lip, it can push the two center teeth apart, making it impossible to close the gap, even with orthodontic care. Patients in this situation may be ideal candidates for a frenectomy. Once the abnormal frenulum is removed, the teeth should be able to come together, leaving patients with an attractive, evenly spaced smile.
Individuals Experiencing Compromised Oral Functions
The tissues of the frena are not vital to biting, chewing, speaking, or any other oral functions. Unfortunately, when too much tissue exists beneath the upper lip or tongue, the frenulum can interfere with oral functions. Many patients who have abnormal frenulum report that they have difficulty performing basic oral functions, such as eating, swallowing, and speaking. By eliminating tissues through a frenectomy procedure, we can restore a full range of function for our patients.
Individuals Experiencing Pain or Discomfort
Excess frenulum tissue can cause pain or discomfort for a number of reasons. As stated above, the frena can compromise oral function and make basic tasks, like swallowing, uncomfortable. However, patients with an abnormal frenulum are also more susceptible to cuts or scratches on these tissues, which can be pretty painful. It is easy for food particles to scratch excess tissue on the frena or for mouth sores to develop as these tissue rubs against the teeth or oral appliances. Though oral sores should heal within a few weeks, if the tissues of the frena are repeatedly being injured or causing discomfort, it may be worth considering a frenectomy.
A frenectomy is an oral surgery procedure, so aside from the above-mentioned characteristics, an ideal frenectomy candidate must be in good health and be free of any conditions that would increase the risk of surgery. If a patient meets these qualifications, this procedure can be performed on patients of all ages to improve oral function and enhance the appearance of the smile.
If you believe you may be an ideal candidate for a frenectomy, contact us at your earliest convenience. Dr. Kellyn Hodges will be happy to answer any questions you may have about the procedure and its recovery period. We look forward to hearing from you!