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Symptoms and effects of a shortened frenulum

A shortened frenulum is a relatively common condition. It is estimated that it occurs even in every 10 children. Check how to recognize it.

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Are you worried about your child’s shortened frenulum? It is certainly a nuisance, but it is a common ailment which, if diagnosed and treated in time, does not leave negative effects.

Frenulum – what is it?

There are four frenulum in the human oral cavity

  • sublingual – connects the lower surface of the tongue to the floor of the mouth;
  • sublingual frenulum of the upper lip – connects the inner side of the upper lip to the gums of the upper jaw, and is located between the labial singles;
  • labial frenulum of the lower lip – connects the inner side of the lower lip with the gums of the lower jaw, it is located between the first two teeth;
  • cheek frenulum – located at the line of the upper teeth, at both cheeks

Shortened sublingual frenulum – symptoms

The most common frenulum-related condition is a shortened sublingual frenulum. It is an ailment that a child is born with, it is not acquired during life. Fortunately, it is very easy to recognize even in the first days of a child’s life. Newborns with a shortened frenulum have problems with sucking and, consequently, feeding is tiring both for the mother (pain during feeding) and for the child (difficult food intake – the child may not eat and thus often cries). A shortened frenulum in older children is easiest to recognize by the shape of the tongue – when the tongue is pulled out of the mouth it takes on a heart shape.

Shortened sublingual frenulum – consequences

A shortened sublingual frenulum causes numerous difficulties. In newborns and infants it is the already mentioned difficulty in taking food. However, the effects of a shortened frenulum in older children include:

  • pronunciation defects, which result from lifting the tongue up while pronouncing such sounds as t, d, n, l, r, sz, rz, cz, j,
  • problems with basic articulation exercises, such as extending the tongue as far forward as possible or extending and lifting the tongue toward the nose,
  • retention of saliva and drooling,
  • problems with digestion – food is not broken down sufficiently

Short sublingual frenulum – treatment

If you suspect problems with the frenulum in your child, go with him to the doctor (preferably go to an ENT specialist)

Before deciding on the most radical method – cutting the frenulum, it is worth considering less invasive ways

Short frenulum – exercises

In some cases visits to the ENT specialist are sufficient, during which the child performs exercises, such as extending the tongue from the mouth as far forward as possible, extending the tongue from the mouth and directing it towards the chin and nose.

Undercutting of a shortened frenulum

Frenuloplasty, or undercutting of a shortened frenulum, is a simple surgical procedure. The undercut is performed with a scalpel, surgical knife, scissors or laser. In the case of older children, it is recommended to perform it with a laser, so that the wound bleeds less, heals faster and there is no need for stitches. For a few days after the procedure it is advisable to limit intense physical activity of children. It is also advisable to give children semi-liquid food for a few days.

Frenectomy in newborns is performed without anaesthesia. Don’t worry, this is a deliberate solution, as administering an anesthetic would be more painful than the procedure itself. After the procedure, bleeding subsides within a few minutes, after which the baby can be fed almost immediately by the mother.

Main photo: Colin Maynard/

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