|Frænectomy / Tongue-Tie Release Explanation & Warnings
|A frænum is a band of fibrous tissue that links the lips to the gums or the tongue to the gums.
Upper Jaw Frænum.
A ‘high’ or prominent upper frænum in children, although a common finding, is often a concern, especially when associated
with a diastema (a space between 2 teeth such as the upper central incisors). Treatment is necessary only when the
frænum exerts a traumatic force on the gum or it causes a diastema to remain open after eruption of the permanent canines
/ ’eye’ teeth.
In an older child, if a frænum is present and the tissue immediately behind the central incisors on the roof of the mouth side
of the teeth blanches when the upper lip is pulled, removal of the frænum is indicated.
The following list of warnings regarding frænectomies is neither exhaustive nor is it predictive. The most pertinent
warnings have been included here.
Pain. As it is a surgical procedure, there will be soreness after the frænum has been removed. This can last for several
days. Painkillers such as Ibuprofen or Paracetamol are very effective. Obviously, the painkiller you use is dependent on
your medical history & the ease with which the frænectomy was carried out.
Swelling. There will be swelling afterwards. This can last several days. Avoidance in the first few hours post-op of
exercise or hot foods / drinks will
decrease the degree of swelling that can develop.
Stitches. The frænectomy site will be closed with stitches. These are dissolvable and ‘fall out’ within 10 – 14 days.
Limited Mouth Opening. Often the chewing muscles and the jaw joints are sore after the procedure so that mouth opening
can be limited for the next few days.
Conscious Use of Tongue. Don’t automatically assume that once the tongue tie has been released, you’ll be automatically
able to stick your tongue out. You will have been used to the tongue being limited in its movements for a number of years
so to fully use the ‘released’ tongue, a conscious effort will have to be made to use it.
Floor of the Mouth Complications. This may have an effect on the salivary ducts in the region of the floor of the mouth in
that the stitches may restrict the outward flow of saliva and this can lead to ballooning up of the floor of the mouth. If this is
the case, get back in contact with the OMFS department / Oral Surgeon post-haste.
Repetition of Frænectomy. Sometimes, the degree of tongue movement is not as great as expected and may mean that
the frænectomy needs to be done again. Post-op tongue-tie release exercises are advocated by some people.
Closure of Spaced Teeth. Having an upper frænectomy will not necessarily by itself, produce the closure of the space. It
is often an adjunct to the Orthodontic closing of the space.
Exposed, Raw Areas. If the upper frænum has been removed, there may be initially, an area in the midline where the gums
can not be approximated; this produces a raw area that can take awhile to heal.
Gum Recession. When the upper frænum is removed, it is possible that the gums around the upper central incisors may
Level of ‘Lip Line’. Once the frænum has been removed, the upper lip is freed and can ‘ride up’ higher displaying more
teeth and gums (that is, showing a higher lip line).
Dental Update 2011. Maxillary Labial Fraenectomy - Indications & Techniques
J Clin Diag Res 2012. Frenectomy. A Review with the Reports of Surgical Techniques
Dentistry 2013. Comparitive Results of Frenectomy by 3 Surgical Techniques - Conventional, Unilateral Displaced Pedicle
Flap & Bilateral Displaced Pedicle Flap
BDJ 2018. Labial Frenectomy - Indications & Practical Implications
The significance and management of ankyloglossia is controversial. Studies have shown a difference in treatment
recommendations between Speech Therapists, Pædiatricians, Ear, Nose & Throat Surgeons and Oral & Maxillofacial
Surgeons. Most professionals, however, will agree that there are certain indications for frænectomy.
A tongue tie can limit tongue movement and create swallowing problems. A frænectomy for functional problems should be
considered on an individual basis.
A tongue tie can lead to problems with breastfeeding, speech, how teeth bite together and potential gum disease and gum
recession problems. The frænectomy will only be done if evaluation shows that function will be improved by surgery.
|Photos of Ankyloglossia / Tongue Ties
|Ankyloglossia can be classified into 4 classes based on Kotlow's Classification as follows:
- Class I: Mild ankyloglossia (12 - 16 mm)
- Class II: Moderate ankyloglossia (8 - 12 mm)
- Class III: Severe ankyloglossia (3 - 8 mm)
- Class IV: Complete ankyloglossia (< 4 mm)
Class III and IV tongue-tie categories should be given special consideration because they severely restrict the tongue's
A normal range of motion of the tongue is indicated by the following criteria:
- A positive ‘blanch test’ of the incisal papilla when pulling the lip forwards
- A large midline maxillary suture present radiographically
- To facilitate orthodontic treatment for closure of a diastema
- To enhance the chances of the diastema remaining closed after orthodontic treatment
- A persistent midline diastema
- To eliminate undesirable tension on the gingival papilla or gingival margin
- To facilitate lip lengthening procedure
- To allow effective toothbrushing in the area of the frænum
|Last Updated 30th March 2021
Early treatment is also indicated to prevent subsequent inflammation, recession of the gum around the spaced teeth, pocket
Tongue Tie / Ankyloglossia.
A Tongue Tie / Ankyloglossia is characterised by a short, thick fibrous band linking the tongue to the gum just behind the
lower central incisors. It limits the movement of the tongue.
The medico-legal landscape of consent has been shaped by a number of cases, such as Chester v Afshar ,
Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board , Duce v Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust  amongst others,
so that it is more patient-centred.
Many of the legal claims in surgical (& medical) cases occur as a result of “failure to warn”, i.e. lack of adequately
documented and appropriate consent.
A pre-requisite for obtaining consent for a surgical (medical / dental) procedure from a patient, is a full exchange of
information regarding any risks, drawbacks and limitations of the proposed treatment and any alternatives to it (even non-
The clinicians should provide the patient with as much information as is appropriate and relevant, that it should be in
terms the patient understands & the risks should be personalised for that individual patient. Also, there should be enough
time for the patient to understand the information given and get a second opinion if needs be.