25 January, 2023
| premier center for oral dental implant facial surgery

Tongue-Tie and Lip-Tie Surgery

Inside the mouth, there are small folds of tissue called frenulum. If a frenulum is too short or too thick, it can restrict movement of the tongue and lips. More commonly, these conditions are known as being tongue-tied or lip-tied. Dr. Garibyan and Dr. Kuang treat these conditions with a procedure called a frenectomy.

An improperly sized frenulum is often caught early in infants because they are unable to latch or drink from bottles. A frenectomy can also be performed for adults, as freeing restricted tissue can treat chronic snoring. If you suspect your child may need a frenectomy, would like an evaluation, or have been referred by another physician, we invite you to contact Premier Center for Oral, Dental Implant & Facial Surgery in Massachusetts today. Our team will walk you through each step to ensure you and your child are comfortable and achieve exceptional results.

What is a Frenulum (Tethered Oral Tissue)?

A frenulum is a piece of soft tissue inside the mouth. Everyone has a lingual frenulum and a labial frenulum. These bands of tissue play an important role in the ability to nurse and form words. 

If you look under your tongue in a mirror, you will see a band of tissue connecting the bottom of your tongue to the floor of your mouth. This is the lingual frenulum. When this tissue is too short or too thick, it restricts the mobility of the tongue, also known as tongue-tied.

You can use your tongue to feel the inside of your upper lip. Between your two front teeth, you will feel another band of tissue that connects the inside of the upper lip to the gums. This is the labial frenulum. When this tissue is too short or too thick, it makes it difficult to fully move the upper lip, also known as lip-tied.

Symptoms of a Tongue-Tie or Lip-Tie

It’s important to attend regular visits with your child’s doctor to evaluate their health. If an improperly sized frenulum is discovered, the child’s doctor will refer you to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon to further diagnose and treat the condition. Your child may display one or more of these symptoms if he or she has a tongue-tie or lip-tie. However, some children do not display any signs. These symptoms include:

  • Trouble breastfeeding
  • Difficulty making certain sounds
  • Difficulty moving the tongue from side to side or making it touch the upper teeth
  • The tongue appears notched or heart-shaped when it is stuck out
  • Inability to stick the tongue out of the mouth past the gums
  • Swallowing difficulties

How Does Tongue-Tie and Lip-Tie Occur?

When a child is developing, the muscles in the mouth and face can become overly tightened, resulting in a frenulum becoming too short. This condition is typically treated during infancy so that the child can receive adequate nutrition and properly breastfeed or bottle feed. A frenectomy early on encourages proper growth and development of oral health as a whole while allowing the child to learn how to speak with full mobility of the lips and tongue.

Tongue-Tie in Adults

In some cases, tongue-tie does not cause feeding problems and the child is able to eat and speak without issue. A person can retain their tongue-tie into adulthood, but it is possible that a tongue-tie can present issues throughout life.

When the tongue is in a low-lying position, it contributes to poor muscle tone of the tongue and soft palate. This contributes to snoring, which is caused by a vibration of these soft tissues. An adult who experiences chronic snoring or obstructive sleep apnea may benefit from a frenectomy. By enabling mobility of the tongue, we can strengthen the muscles of the tongue and palate to reduce snoring and ensure proper airflow during sleep.

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Frenectomy Procedure

During your first visit, Dr. Garibyan or Dr. Kuang will examine you or your child’s mouth. We may take 3D scans to view the bone and tissue structures of the mouth and face, then outline the details of your treatment plan. If a frenectomy is recommended, we will discuss your options for anesthesia or sedation during the procedure. This is a quick procedure and often, only local anesthesia is necessary to numb the area. However, we are proud to offer other options and make accommodations so that you and your child are comfortable.

Once the area is numb, your oral surgeon will use a laser to release the tissue and apply stitches. With the use of a precise laser, surgery is fast, more comfortable, and causes minimal discomfort and bleeding. The surgery itself can be completed in as fast as 15 minutes.

After a frenectomy, older children and adults may need to perform tongue exercises several times a day for 4–6 weeks. Strengthening the tongue muscle improves mobility and reduces the chances of scar tissue forming. We will provide instructions for you and your child following a frenectomy to ensure a smooth recovery with optimal results.

Frenectomy in Massachusetts

A frenectomy can be life-altering and significantly improve oral health and function for both infants and adults. Contact Premier Center for Oral, Dental Implant & Facial Surgery today for a consultation with one of our board-certified, highly skilled oral surgeons. We will examine your or your child’s health and determine if a frenectomy is the right treatment for their safety, comfort, and oral health needs.