Possible Procedures to Cut the Tongue Frenulum

Postnatal, Your questions

To learn more about the frenulum, read the previous article Short Tongue Frenulum: To Cut or Not to Cut?

Updated article : October, 2023.

There are several possible procedures to cut the frenulum. A few are outlined below with a short description.

Surgery With Scissors or Scalpel

Doctors or dentists complete this procedure after having received proper training. Some of these professionals can be found in the public health network, while others offer their services privately, with associated costs. Frequently the surgery is fast and takes place in the office with scissors or a scalpel. They could suggest that you give your child acetaminophen before the procedure since the majority of studies do not suggest local anesthesia for children under 3 or 4 months of age. To immobilise the baby and avoid movement during the procedure, they will swaddle them, and an assistant will assist. Ideally, the baby should breastfeed right after the procedure to be comforted, creating a reassuring, gentle atmosphere with skin-to-skin contact, subdued lighting and soft music in the background, for example.

Complications with this procedure are very rare:

  • In 3-5% of cases, light bleeding of the muscle;
  • An infection may appear over the next couple of days;
  • Cutting of the Wharton duct, a saliva duct;
  • Reattachment.

The Laser Surgery Approach

Another surgical procedure is now available—laser. The scientific data for 2022 do not show that the laser is superior to the scissors for this kind of procedure. This procedure requires equipment and training. Laser surgery has clear benefits during a frenectomy:

  • Immediate cauterisation: this medical technique seals the blood vessels during the operation and limits or eliminates post-op bleeding;
  • Reduced inflammation, as less tissue trauma. Everything heals quicker due to this.
  • Less pain after surgery: less inflammation means less pressure;
  • Lasers are bactericide, meaning that they eliminate the risk of infection during the operation;
  • Less chance of reattachment.

According to the dentist Dr. Duc-Minh Lam-Do, who frequently uses this technique, using lasers to treat different oral problems isn’t new. Frenectomies are part of this, and at any age. The procedure lasts only 15-20 seconds for each frenulum (if there are several). The parent can attend the procedure as long as they wear laser glasses.

The cost can represent several hundred dollars, including consultation fees and surgery.

After the procedure, the professional could suggest specific stretching and suctioning exercises using your finger in the mouth of your baby 3 to 5 times a day over the next two weeks (up to 4 weeks) to avoid the tongue or lip band reattaching. Yes, you read that right! Despite cutting your baby’s frenulum of the tongue, nature may, over time, reattach it. This is why exercises are important to prevent this reattachment and to increase tissue flexibility. Re-evaluation takes place two weeks later, during the check-up to, see if you should continue with the exercises.

Photo - maman et bébé au parc I understand that this could seem like a huge thing for parents, but it’s a situation where you can act to improve the experience compared to other where they’re subject to the forces of nature and life.

I hope this information will help you better understand a short frenulum of the tongue or lip situation and its possible repercussions. Ask your doctor questions as they will be able to give you more details about your specific situation.

Talk soon!

The Baby Expert

Thanks to Dr. Lam-Do for sharing their experiences in this field.

Dr. Duc-Minh Lam-Do
Centre Dentaire Lakeshore
Kirkland, Québec H9H 4S4
514 694-5716

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