What is a Frenulum?

A frenulum (also called frenum, lingual frenum, or lingual frenulum) is a band of tissue that connects the tongue to the floor of your mouth, and your lips to your gums. The tongue frenulum, for instance, is the small fold of tissue connecting the bottom of your tongue to the floor of your mouth.

In some cases, the frenum is too short, tight or tough, and basically does its job too well. The inhibited movement causes difficulty with regular tasks like eating and talking, or hurts proper development in children, leading to aesthetic problems.   Most commonly, your child is lip tied or tongue tied.

A Lip Tie (labial tie) is the tissue that connects the upper lip to the upper gums. Sometimes this tissue is too thick, too tight, or both.  The presence of a lip tie (upper lip tie) are mostly found in newborns and infants and are breastfeeding related.

A Tongue Tie is a condition when the frenulum connecting the tongue to the bottom of the mouth is too short, therefore restricting the range of motion of the tongue. The medical term for a tongue tie is Ankylglossia.

How Do I Know If My Child’s Frenulum is a Problem?

The diagnosis for a tongue tie is provided during a physical exam. Doctors have screening tools to judge various characteristics of the tongue’s appearance and mobility.  Common symptoms that you may notice in infants and/or children include


  • Poor latch
  • Slides off nipple or falls asleep while attempting to latch
  • Colic symptoms
  • Reflux symptoms
  • Poor weight gain
  • Continuous feedings
  • Gumming or chewing of the nipple
  • Unable to take a pacifier or bottle

Older children:

  • Difficulty keeping teeth clean
  • Pulling/receding gums
  • Difficulty eating or speaking
  • Pain

Nursing moms may notice:

  • Creased, cracked, bruised or blistered nipples
  • Bleeding nipples
  • Incomplete breast drainage
  • Infected nipples or breasts
  • Plugged ducts
  • Mastitis (inflammation of the breast)
  • Nipple thrush

This can be treated with a minor laser surgery called a frenectomy.

What is a Frenectomy?

A Laser Frenectomy (also referred to as frenulectomy or lingual frenectomy) is a procedure that uses a soft tissue laser to repair the frenulum (mostly for children).

A soft tissue laser does NOT cut, it is more a “vaporization” of tissue that occurs with light energy.  There is very little discomfort and almost no bleeding from the laser procedure.  Lasers sterilize at touch therefore have less risk of infection.  The healing is very quick – a laser stimulates bio-regeneration and healing.

The result is beautiful tissue, less chance of relapse.  The operation generally takes less than fifteen minutes.

How Long Does It Take To Recover?

For children under two, we don’t typically have to use local anesthetic.  Infants are often able to feed immediately after the surgery with improved latch and reduced breast pain.