Frenectomies and Gingivectomies

What is a frenectomy?

A frenulum, or frenum, is a piece of tissue that connects one part of the body to another. We have frenum in several places throughout the body, but in terms of dental care, three locations may require treatment. 

  • The lingual frenum connects your tongue to your mouth, affecting your tongue’s range of motion. 
  • The labial frenum connects your lips to your gums at the top and bottom — right at the front of your mouth (aligned with the gaps between your front teeth.)
  • And the buccal frenum, which connects your lips and cheeks to your gums. 

As the suffix in frenectomy implies, a frenectomy is a procedure in which one or more of these frena are cut or removed.

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Why might I need a frenectomy?

Sometimes one or more of the frena may connect too much tissue, limiting the range of movement that should be available. Depending which frena is at issue, this can lead to difficulties with everything from nursing to eating, speaking, or even breathing freely. 

As you may guess from this list of concerns, the need for a frenectomy is often identified early, in infancy or childhood. But people of any age can receive a frenectomy procedure. 

In fact, some issues with the frena don’t become apparent until the mouth and gums have matured, such as when they are contributing to gum recession. 

Another reason adults may need a frenectomy is in the case of tongue-tie — the common term for when the lingual frenum isn’t allowing the tongue enough movement. A tongue-tie surgery resolves the issues related to tongue-tie, including difficulties with speech.

Frenectomies at Mid-Peninsula Dental Specialties

Depending on the age of the patient receiving a frenectomy, they may need to be secured or held by a parent during the procedure. 

A local anesthetic will be applied to the area to be cut, ensuring minimal discomfort. The cut is performed quickly, often with a Biolase diode laser which allows for clean, precise results. 

The entire procedure is over almost before you know it — usually less than 15 minutes.

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What is a gingivectomy?

A gingivectomy is an oral surgery that removes a portion of the gum tissue. While there are several oral surgeries that remove or modify gum tissue, in this procedure, the goal is removing extra and fibrous enlargement of gum tissue or tissue that has been impacted by disease.

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Why might I need gum reduction surgery?

Gingivectomies or gum reduction surgeries may be performed for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Cosmetics: To improve the appearance of the smile, such as in [crown lengthening] procedures. 
  • Function: To remove excess gum tissue that may have formed as a side effect of medications.
  • Oral health: Gum disease can cause the gingival tissue to pull away from the teeth, creating gaps or pockets. This extra space gives bacteria, plaque, and tartar a place to hide that can’t be reached during brushing or flossing. A gingivectomy can reduce these pockets.

Gum reduction surgery at Mid-Peninsula Dental Specialties

A gingivectomy or gum reduction surgery in our offices usually takes less than an hour. If the tissue around more than just a few teeth is being removed, we may schedule multiple sessions. 

As with all of our procedures, we’ll make sure you’re comfortable — and that means starting with a local anesthetic, just like when you get a filling. Remember, your comfort is one of our top priorities. So if you’re still feeling anxious, let us know, and we can discuss further sedation options. 

Next, the identified portions of gum tissue will be removed with either a scalpel or a laser, depending on the unique needs of your procedure. 

Stitches are rarely necessary after gum reduction surgery, but the surgical area will be bandaged to help ensure healing. 

You’ll be able to go home right after your procedure, but you should plan to take it easy for a few days. Some bleeding may occur, and your oral surgeon will make sure you understand all of your aftercare instructions, including sticking to a soft diet for a few days. 

Remember, we’re just a phone call away if you’re experiencing pain or any other troubling symptoms during your recovery. Please don’t hesitate to reach out. 

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Dr Phan and Dental Assistant Jane were really Pros from start to finish. Jane was absolutely hilarious and very attentive, while also totally professional. Her and Dr. Phan made a great team and were able to solve my complicated wisdom tooth situation and always kept me informed of every risk before proceeding. Thank you!

Michael B.

Dr Beckstead is amazing. I had partial bone loss around one of my teeth and three dentists think that I won't be able to keep it, but Dr Beckstead performed one surgery and saved my tooth. It has been over two years since the surgery and I have not had any more issues with that tooth.

Lucy X.

I'm actually looking forward to my next prophylaxis. That's a teeth cleaning, and I never would have believed I'd say such a thing. I want to give a special shout out to Cindy, who did a fantastic job on my teeth AND gave me the tools and knowledge to nip gum disease in the bud. Have you ever heard of a Sulcabrush? I have one now, and it's awesome. Look it up.

David R.

Dr. Beckstead and his entire team are exceptional. They provided kind, informative and top-notch care every step of the way. My nerves were immediately calmed when I entered the office and I realized that I was in the caring and experienced care of true professionals. The procedure was flawless, the outcome was terrific and the entire process was pain-free (in every way!).

Tina R.

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20 First Street, Suite 200, Los Altos, CA 94022

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