Lingual Frenectomies Aren’t Just for Kids!

lingual frenum that will need a frenectomy by a dentist

Large and restrictive lingual frenum in a teenage college student from Milford that we treated.

Most people, and especially those with kids, have heard of the term “tongue tie.” Tongue tie, more accurately called ankyloglossia, is an abnormality in which the tongue has very limited movement due to the attachment of the frenum. The frenum is the thin band of tissue that connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth. See the photo to the right of a typical adult tongue tie.

Severe cases of tongue tie are identified shortly after the infant is born. In those circumstances, tongue tie surgery – called a lingual frenectomy – is done early on. Failure to correct severe cases can lead to many issues including difficulty nursing, speech problems, and other problems.

However, in many patients, the frenal attachment is not so restrictive as to warrant immediate treatment. But, as those patients age, and their faces and other oral structures enlarge and mature, the frenum can then become a hindrance. Treatment is then indicated.

Before and After Laser Lingual Frenectomy Photos

These are before and after photos of a laser lingual frenectomy done in our office on a young, 20 something patient:

Before and after laser lingual frenectomy photogragh

Before and after photos showing a closeup of her tongue. This is 3 weeks after the procedure. Photos and laser surgery Dr. Nicholas Calcaterra.

In the above photos, you can see the pronounced frenum in the before picture. Notice how it is white? It is white because she is stretching her tongue with great force to allow us to even photograph it. In the after photo, it is relaxed, and her tongue is able to move much more.

laser tongue tie before and after photos

Prior to the laser tongue tie procedure, she could barely lick her lips. Now, she can extend her tongue beyond the borders of her lips. Surgery and photos Dr. Nicholas Calcaterra.

The above photo shows the degree to which her tongue mobility increased after the procedure with the laser. In this case, her mobility increased by approximately a half inch.

Reasons for a Lingual Frenectomy as an Adult

There are many reasons why teenagers and adults elect to have this procedure. This list is far from exclusive and each case is different:

  • Pain in the frenum while yawning.
  • Minor speech problems.
  • A feeling that you are unintentionally “spitting” while talking.
  • Rotation and/or crowding of the lower incisors.
  • Recession of the gum tissue on the tongue side of the front teeth where the frenum attaches to the floor of the mouth.
  • A desire to be able to lick your lips.
  • And many others…

Note that as a dental office, we can diagnose many issues related to the tongue and make treatment recommendations. But if there is a concern that the frenum is affecting the speech, we always recommend a consult with a Speech Language Pathologist.

While we perform many labial frenectomies, we do our fair share of tongue tie procedures. So, as you can see, lingual frenectomies aren’t just for kids!

Are you slightly tongue tied? Does your teenager or child have this issue? We routinely perform this procedure with our laser on patients of nearly all ages. Call us at (203) 799 -2929 or visit this page for more information.

About Nicholas Calcaterra DDS

Dr. Nicholas Calcaterra provides gentle and personalized dental care in our state of the art office in Orange, CT, with a special focus on IV Sedation. He is passionate about dentistry and enjoys using this website to educate and inform patients. He practices with his wife Dr. Carla Calcaterra.

Comments

  1. Louise Thomas says

    I don’t understand why it isn’t standard procedure to consult a speech therapist prior to recommending lingual frenectomies when there is a question regarding impaired speech. I have NEVER in my 26 years of practice seen a child with a “tongue tie” where it needed to be surgically altered. On the other hand, I’ve heard of and seen patients who have been unnecessarily put through this procedure due to faulty information. Today I saw a student who told me he had this procedure over the summer. I am treating him for stuttering! His speech articulation was never impaired.

    • Louise,

      Thank you for thoughts. Based on your comment, I will assume (hopefully correctly) that you are a Speech Language Pathologist and not a dentist or dental hygienist.

      You’ve brought up some examples that, on the surface, appear concerning. But without being in your consult room and with the dentist who did the procedure I feel it is inappropriate to comment more or assign blame.

      I must caution you that there many reasons besides a speech concern to perform a lingual frenectomy. I’ve outlined them in my post. For our office, if a patient has a speech concern, we suggest a consult with a speech language pathologist to assess that. But please don’t assume that frenectomies are only done for speech issues – that would be inaccurate.

      I would estimate that over 90% of the lingual frenectomies we do on teenagers and adults are for reasons unrelated to speech.

      Thank you again for your comments.

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