What is a Frenectomy on a Baby?

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If you have a young child, you may have heard of the term “tongue tie”.  Tongue ties can negatively affect a child’s ability to eat and speak.  The procedure to fix a tongue tie is called a frenectomy.  So, what is a frenectomy on a baby?

What is a Frenectomy?

A frenectomy is a procedure that corrects a tongue tie, or a lip tie.  The medical term for tongue tie is ankyloglossia.  It is a hereditary condition that affects 10% of infants.  Being tongue or lip tied means that there is excessive tissue connecting the baby’s tongue or lip to the mouth.  

Sometimes a tongue tie does not require any treatment.  Other times, the child will need a frenectomy or speech therapy.  

A frenectomy on a baby is done by removing the frenulum, which is the thin piece of tissue that is located beneath the tongue or between the lip and gum.  While all babies are born with a frenulum, for some, the frenulum is so tight that they cannot move their tongues properly.  

A frenectomy is a quick, painless procedure that is done using a dental laser.  Using a laser ensures that there is no bleeding, swelling, or stitches needed.  Breastfed babies can continue nursing immediately after the procedure.   

Why is a Frenectomy on a Baby Needed?

Many times, tongue tie goes undetected, but there are signs that a frenectomy on a baby is needed.  One of the first signs that a baby needs a frenectomy is trouble with breastfeeding.  A breastfeeding mother may notice the following:

  • Nipple pain
  • Prolonged feedings
  • Flattened or cracked nipples
  • Poor milk production

When feeding, the infant may show the following signs:

  • Trouble latching onto the breast
  • Popping on and off the breast
  • Clicking sound
  • Milk leaking out of the mouth
  • Coughing or gagging
  • Poor weight gain
  • Reflux

Older children with tongue ties may exhibit the following:

  • Speech delay
  • Problems with pronunciation of certain sounds such as t, d, z, s, th, n, and l
  • Difficulty maintaining oral hygiene
  • Difficulty eating 

What Age to do a Frenectomy?

A frenectomy can be safely performed on young infants that are just a few weeks old.  It is such a minor procedure that the baby can even breastfeed immediately after it is completed.  

Frenectomies are not only for babies. Older children also get frenectomies to help with speech and orthodontic issues. 

Who Performs a Frenectomy on a Baby?

A frenectomy on a baby can be performed by a doctor or a dentist.  Many pediatric dentists are well trained in frenectomies and can do them in the office.

What is Frenectomy Recovery Like?

Since a laser is used for frenectomies, recovery time is quite fast.  There are a few stretching exercises that must be done in order to prevent the frenulum from reattaching itself. Post procedure stretches are very important to achieve the best results.

Doctors recommend stretching the area 3 – 5 times a day for 3 weeks.  The stretches are quick and easy to do.  Recovery is not usually painful, but if your child is experiencing some pain, tylenol or ibuprofen may be given.

Breastfeeding after Frenectomy

Many mothers are concerned with how a frenectomy on a baby will affect breastfeeding. The good news is that you can breastfeed immediately after the procedure.  After a frenectomy, the baby should be able to latch better and feed more effectively.


What is a frenectomy on a baby?  A frenectomy is a procedure that cuts the frenulum, or tongue tie of a baby.  This can also be done on a lip tie.  Frenectomies help with breastfeeding, eating, speaking, and oral hygiene.