Lingual frenectomy and lingual frenuloplasty are both dental procedures used to correct a condition called ankyloglossia. Ankylogloassia, more commonly known as ‘tied tongue’, is an abnormality of the lingual frenulum. The lingual frenulum, the band of tissue that connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth, is abnormally short, thick, and tight in individuals with ankyloglossia. This affects the movement of the tongue and can cause eating, speech, tooth development, oral health, and psycho-social problems. Ankyloglossia is a condition some people are born with, whether due to hereditary or environmental factors.
Lingual frenectomy is a surgical procedure that involves completely removing the lingual frenulum. It is performed by an oral surgeon with the help of local anesthesia. The procedure takes 10 to 15 minutes to complete and the patient is left with a short row of stitches on the underside of the tongue. Serious side-effects are not typically seen with lingual frenectomy; however, potential complications include bleeding, infection, and in some cases, temporary or permanent nerve damage.
Lingual frenuloplasty differs from lingual frenectomy in that the frenulum is not completely removed, but only altered. The goal of lingual frenuloplasty is to snip the lingual frenulum just enough to loosen it and increase the mobility of the tongue. In terms of procedure length and post-operative expectations, lingual frenuloplasty is very similar to lingual frenectomy.
Lingual frenectomy and frenuloplasty may be performed using a scalpel (surgical knife) or a soft tissue laser. Laser dental surgery has several advantages compared to dental surgery done with a scalpel. Ankyloglossia treated with a laser does not require stitches, and also results in less pain and bleeding.