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Frenulectomy (Tongue-tie surgery)
The human body has several frenula. There’s one under the tongue and inside the upper lip, just for starters. The frenula most commonly dealt with in orthodontic practice are known as the lingual (beneath the tongue) and labial (inside the lip) frenula. When the frenulum is not properly anchored, it can result in an odd appearance, interfere with normal oral hygiene and speech, and can even cause deformities later in life.

Tongue tie, or ankyloglosssia, is a congenital condition caused when the tongue is obstructed from free and proper movement because of an improper attachment of the lingual frenulum. There are two ways this can happen. Either the frenulum is too short and tight, or the frenulum is attached too far toward the tip of the tongue. Ankyloglossia is a common congenital defect that generally corrects itself between the ages of six months to six years. When it does not, however, it can lead to problems with social interactions such as speech, as well as eating and swallowing problems.

Effects Of Tongue Tie

People with tongue tie often have to speak very slowly and carefully in order to be clearly understood. Tongue tie can also cause difficulty swallowing, mandibular prognathism (a forward-thrust lower jaw), or an overbite. In severe cases, the sufferer may not be able to move the tongue much or at all because the tongue is anchored firmly to the floor of the mouth. In speech, this typically manifests as difficulty with sounds like “r,” “s,” and f,” which depend on the free motion of the tongue to be performed correctly.

The procedure to correct frenular misattachment, frenulectomy, is also called “tongue-tie surgery” in the vernacular. In dental circles, it is also known as a frenotomy, frenectomy, or frenulotomy. In a frenulectomy, the lingual frenulum is removed surgically. This permits the tongue to move more freely, resulting in clearer and more distinct speech. In many cases it is also a starting point for corrective adjustment of overbite, underbite, or swallowing difficulties.

In many cases, a complete frenulectomy may not be necessary. Instead, a related procedure known as frenuloplasty is used to alter the frenulum. This can be done either through traditional surgical means or by use of a laser. Post-operative pain and difficulty moving the tongue or speaking for a few days afterward is the most common side effect, but proper aftercare can help reduce or eliminate these problems.