What is a Frenectomy?
The tongue-tie release procedure is usually called a frenectomy but there are other names that you may have heard it called.
A frenotomy/frenulotomy is a minor incision into the connective tissue at the bottom of the tongue to free the tongue from the floor of the mouth. This is usually done for babies. The full frenectomy procedure is also known as a frenulectomy or frenuloplasty or functional frenuloplasty. This involves removing or altering the connective tissue under the tongue.
Myofunctional Therapy And The Frenectomy Procedure
Frenectomy procedures are low risk, generally using local anesthetic. The procedure is done with a laser, a scalpel, or scissors. With a laser, a diamond shape wound appears under the tongue and doesn’t require sutures. With a scalpel or scissors, sutures will be placed to help the wound heal. Wound healing usually takes one to two weeks, although it may take longer. Pain is usually not a major factor and can be managed with mild painkillers most of the time.
To achieve proper wound healing and full function of the tongue it is crucial to perform myofunctional therapy exercises. The tongue was used to functioning with restriction and now it has to relearn its range of motion and ability to function like it was always meant to. Just removing the restriction itself won’t make the orofacial muscles function like they were designed to.
Once the release is complete, we need to strengthen and retrain the tongue. Many doctors who perform the procedure have made myofunctional therapy exercises part of their treatment protocol. Patients are required to do two to six weeks of exercises to prepare the tongue for the frenectomy procedure. It is becoming more widely know that it really does lead to better results.
Post-frenectomy exercises are also necessary to stop the tongue-tie from reattaching. The tissues of the mouth heal quickly, so reattachment is a concern especially considering that the tongue has never learned to rest in the correct position and the patient has never been able to swallow properly.
These post-surgical exercises are followed up with a full myofunctional therapy program to restore full and optimal functionality. When all these steps are followed, the results of the tongue-tie release are usually excellent and last for the long-term. My patients who have undergone the procedure and followed the protocol have had life changing results!