General Information & Overview

A frenectomy is a surgical procedure where a fold of tissue called a frenum is removed or repositioned. The word frenum, or frenulum, describes the tough tissue that attaches any organ to its neighboring tissue to prevent it from moving too much. When any of these frenums are shorter than normal, they can limit the movement of the tissues to which they are attached.

There are several different frenums within the mouth including:

  • Those that attach to the inside of the lip, a labial frenum.
  • Those that attach to the inside of the cheek, a maxillary buccal frenum.

The labial frenum often attaches to the center of the upper lip between the two front teeth. This can cause a gap or space and result in gum recession due to the frenum pulling the gums away from the teeth. A labial frenectomy removes the labial frenum. This procedure is often performed on orthodontic patients to assist in closing the gap or space between the two front teeth.

The problem of the upper labial frenum is primarily one of aesthetics, but not necessarily. If the frenum is too short or tight, there are a few common issues. For one, the ligament tissue can extend toward the two upper front teeth and cause a diastema, or gap in the teeth. It can also create an “open mouth posture,” by limiting the movement of the lip and preventing the mouth from properly sealing. This leads to open mouth breathing, which in children impairs the development of nose breathing and by extension proper airway and jaw development. It can also cause gum recession.