What’s a Lingual Frenulum, and When Does it Need to be Corrected?

When it’s Important to Correct Oral Frenula

When you peer into your mouth, we’ll bet you see many things that are familiar to you. The tongue, tonsils, and uvula all tend to ring a bell with most people. Most of us are also familiar with the epiglottis, whose job it is to prevent the inhalation of food into the windpipe. But, what’s that thing called that attaches our tongue to the bottom of our mouth? Well, dear student, that’s called the lingual frenulum. And, sometimes, it needs to be snipped. Let’s find out why.

What Is a Frenulum?

Frenula are membranous folds of skin or mucous membranes that support or restrict the movement of a part or organ, and they exist in our brain, mouth, digestive tract, and on external genitalia.
 
In our mouth we have two frenula, the lingual frenulum, which secures the tongue to the bottom of our mouth, and the labial frenula, which connects the upper lip to the gum tissue just above your two front teeth. In most cases frenula develop normally without the need for any sort of correction later in life. However, occasionally labial frenula can overdevelop causing a gap to appear between a person’s two front teeth, and lingual frenula develop without the necessary length for proper speech, or too close to the tip of the tongue which can interfere with eating and speech.

When Surgery is Recommended

Generally speaking, most physicians and dentists recommend correcting lingual frenula only when they cause a significant amount of pain, or interfere substantially with one’s quality of life, as when eating, swallowing and speaking are negatively affected.

Labial frenula that disrupt the positioning of a person’s front teeth and cause a diastema (a gap) commonly self-correct with the aid of orthodontics, and are only recommended after orthodontic work. Occasionally labial frenulum concerns auto-resolve with the arrival of a child’s permanent teeth.