What is a Frenectomy?

The word “Frenectomy,” also known as a frenulectomy, is an oral surgery procedure designed to treat a condition known as lip-tie or tongue-tie. During the procedure, an oral surgeon cuts or modifies the frenum (aka frenulum), which is a band of connective tissue that joins two areas of the mouth. In the mouth, frena (the plural of frenum) joins the lips to the gums or the tongue to the floor of the mouth. People have multiple frena in their mouths. Most of the time, these do not lead to serious issues. However, if a frenum is too short or tight, it can lead to oral health problems. What’s more, it may even negatively impact on speech. Babies may struggle to breastfeed and swallow if the condition is left untreated.

Purpose of a Frenectomy 

Your child may require a frenectomy for one of many reasons. Therefore, your healthcare provider might recommend the procedure to correct one of the following associated adverse conditions:

  • Diastema (A gap between teeth) Some people find this feature unattractive, although recently, the look has grown in popularity due to celebrities such as Laurence Fishburne and Michael Strahan
  • Gum recession may lead to gingivitis, cavities, and restricted mobility  
  • Lip-tie (which limits lip movement)
  • Pain, swelling or tenderness when brushing or performing other forms of oral care
  • Tongue-tie (alters the tongue’s range of motion)

Who needs a Frenectomy?

Most of the time, dentists perform frenectomies on babies struggling with feeding issues or speech concerns. However, sometimes, dental health practitioners recommend frenectomies for adults, too. For example, sometimes a frenum is so tight, it pulls gums away from teeth. A frenectomy frees the band of connective tissue. This reduces the risk of gaps, gum recession and other oral health problems.

Types of Frenectomies


  • Labial Frenectomy
    Sometimes called a maxillary frenectomy, this procedure removes the band of tissue that connects upper gums to front teeth. Dentists use labial frenectomies to correct lip-ties. Please note that labial frenectomies can be performed on the lower lip, too. However, upper lip frenectomies are more common.
  • Lingual Frenectomy
    This procedure removes or modifies the band of tissue that connects the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth. Dentists use lingual frenectomies to correct tongue-ties

Frenectomy Procedure

In most cases, the oral frenectomy procedure is straightforward:

  1. After you consult with your dentist, you will show up to your appointment. 
  2. The dental assistant will position you lying faceup. If the procedure is for a child, their parent may hold them throughout the entire process.   
  3. Your oral surgeon may apply a topical anesthetic to the area to numb pain. 
  4. Using a scalpel, surgical scissors or a cauterizing instrument, the doctor will quickly snip the frenum.
  5. If the lip tie is severe or more complicated, a few stitches may be necessary to close the incision. 
  6. The entire procedure will likely take 15 minutes or less.

About Dr. Fred Wong of Blue Ocean Dentistry in Glendora

Dr. Fred Wong and the staff at Blue Ocean Dentistry use the latest available dental treatments, equipment, and materials – all of which make a marked difference in our patients’ experiences. We are committed to helping our patients achieve optimal dental health. We creatively combine dental science and artistry — which can literally redesign your smile. Since even a subtle change in your smile will help you to project self-confidence and high self-esteem, we love helping you feel good about yourself. We deliver the finest dental care at the most reasonable cost and accept most dental insurance plans as well as CareCredit. For more about the dental treatment plans we offer or to schedule an appointment, call today (626) 852-6999.