Understanding Frenectomy: What, Who, Why, and Who Performs It

A young girl points to her smile after a frenectomy procedure.

There are a number of procedures to tackle specific issues that can affect your overall well-being. One of these procedures is a frenectomy. It might not be as familiar as your regular dental cleanings or getting a cavity filled, but a frenectomy addresses specific oral challenges. In this post, let’s dive into what a frenectomy is, who might benefit from it, and why someone would consider this procedure. We’ll also talk about who has the expertise to perform it.

What is a Frenectomy?

A frenectomy is a simple surgical procedure that removes or alters a frenulum, a small piece of tissue that connects two structures. In the oral cavity, there are two main types of frenula: the lingual frenulum (the band of tissue beneath the tongue) and the labial frenulum (the tissue connecting the upper lip to the gum and the lower lip to the gum).

Who Needs a Frenectomy?

Several conditions may warrant a frenectomy, and individuals of various ages can benefit from this procedure. Common scenarios include:

  1. Ankyloglossia (Tongue Tie): One of the most frequent reasons for a frenectomy is ankyloglossia, commonly known as tongue tie. This condition occurs when the lingual frenulum is too short or tight, restricting the range of motion of the tongue. This can interfere with breastfeeding in infants and may lead to speech difficulties in older children and adults.
  2. Speech Impediments: In some cases, a tight lingual frenulum can contribute to speech impediments, making it challenging for individuals to pronounce certain sounds correctly. A frenectomy can help alleviate these speech issues by allowing for improved tongue movement.
  3. Orthodontic Concerns: A professional may recommend a frenectomy as part of orthodontic treatment. In some instances, a tight labial frenulum can cause a gap between the upper front teeth, known as a diastema. By removing or modifying the frenulum, orthodontic treatment can be more effective in closing the gap.
  4. Periodontal Concerns: The labial frenulum can also contribute to gum recession. In cases where the frenulum pulls excessively on the gum tissue, a periodontist like Dr. Scharf may perform a frenectomy to prevent further recession and improve overall gum health.

Why Opt for a Frenectomy?

The decision to undergo a frenectomy is based on the specific needs of the individual. Some of the key reasons to consider this procedure include:

  1. Improving Function: Frenectomies can enhance the functionality of the tongue and lips, promoting better speech, improved breastfeeding, and more effective orthodontic treatment.
  2. Preventing Complications: Addressing tongue tie and other frenulum-related issues early on can prevent complications later in life, such as speech difficulties, dental misalignments, and challenges with oral hygiene.
  3. Enhancing Quality of Life: For individuals experiencing limitations in daily activities due to ankyloglossia or other frenulum-related issues, a frenectomy can significantly enhance their quality of life.

Who Can Perform a Frenectomy?

Various healthcare professionals can perform a frenectomy, depending on the specific circumstances and the type of frenulum involved. Qualified practitioners include:

  1. Dentists: General dentists, pediatric dentists, and orthodontists may perform frenectomies, particularly those involving the labial frenulum.
  2. Periodontists: A periodontist like Dr. Scharf, is specifically trained in all areas of periodontal (gum) and oral tissues.
  3. Oral Surgeons: In cases where a more complex procedure is required or if there are additional oral health concerns, an oral surgeon may be involved in performing the frenectomy.
  4. Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) Specialists: For issues related to the lingual frenulum affecting speech or swallowing, an ENT specialist may be consulted.


A frenectomy is a valuable procedure that can address various oral health concerns. It offers individuals improved functionality and an enhanced quality of life. It resolves tongue ties in infants, improves speech in children, and aids orthodontic treatment in adults. A frenectomy performed by qualified healthcare professionals can make a significant difference in oral health and overall well-being. If you or someone you know may benefit from a frenectomy, consult with Dr. Scharf today. He can help you determine the most appropriate course of action.