What is it?
A frenum is a fold of tissue or muscle that connects the lips, cheek or tongue to the jawbone. The band of tissue connecting the tongue to the floor of the mouth is called the lingual frenum, while the band connecting the lip to the gum in front of the teeth is called the labial frenum. A frenectomy is a procedure to remove one of these folds of tissue.
An unusually thick, large or tight lingual frenum can seriously constrict the movement of the tongue– this condition is called “tongue-tie,” and is, in fact, the source of the metaphorical phrase. The lingual frenum may also pull so strongly on the middle of the tongue that the tongue acquires a heart shape. An unusually short range of tongue extension may indicate the need for a lingual frenectomy.
- Children who are tongue-tied may have difficulty breastfeeding as infants, and may later develop speech problems.
- When your child begins talking, usually at 12-to-18 months, you may notice that he or she is having problems with speech.
- Some older children or teenagers may notice that the frenum under their tongue becomes stuck between their front teeth. Or they may not be able to stick their tongue out as far as their friends can.
- Your dentist may notice that a frenum is pulling the gum away from the lower front teeth. This can cause periodontal (gum) problems.