If your baby has problems latching correctly while breastfeeding, or if your older child has speech development problems, the cause may be an overly attached frenum. The frenum is a thin membrane that connects the tongue to the base of the mouth. Some babies have a frenum that extends further than other frenums, making proper tongue movement difficult. For these children, a frenectomy is usually recommended. Frenectomies may be completed by a dentist, an oral surgeon, or a pediatrician. There are three types of frenectomies: laser, electrosurgery, and incision. If given the option between the three, you should consider the laser frenectomy for several reasons.
During a laser frenectomy, the laser is calibrated in such a way that it is able to quickly and efficiently cut through the mucus membrane of the frenum. However, the laser is not powerful enough to cut through the tougher tissue of the tongue. This protects your child from the small possibility of a stray cut. If you opt for a traditional frenectomy involving a scalpel, there is a slightly greater risk of nicking your child's tongue.
No Need for Anesthetic
A frenectomy with a laser is fast and relatively painless. This means that your child will not need any kind of sedation or anesthetic for the procedure. Some parents opt to use a small amount of topical anesthetic that can be applied about half an hour before the procedure or by the dentist in the office just before the procedure. However, many dentists and parents find this unnecessary and instead opt for immediate comforting after the procedure to reduce any sense of trauma in the child.
Your Baby Can Feed Immediately After the Procedure
When using a laser for the frenectomy and opting to not use anesthetic, your baby will be able to nurse immediately after the procedure. Nursing immediately is encouraged by most dentists, as it encourages natural movement of the tongue and also comforts your baby. If you opt for an incision frenectomy, you may have to wait a short period of time for any bleeding to stop and for anesthetic to wear off before you can safely nurse.
Less Risk of an Infection
A laser cauterizes as it cuts. This means that the wound in your child's mouth will be closed as soon as the procedure is finished. There will be no need for stitches or gauze to stop any bleeding. This allows both you and your baby to get back to your normal routine, including feeding sessions, speaking (or babbling), and playing. Additionally, because there is no open wound, there will be less risk of an infection.
It is important to note that soon after a frenectomy, you may notice a small white triangle where the membrane was cut. This is a normal part of the healing process and does not indicate an infection. However, if there is any swelling or pus, or if the triangle grows over time, you should contact your dentist for advice.
Quicker Healing Time
A laser frenectomy will heal quickly. However, it is important that you complete stretching exercises each day to keep the tongue from healing to the bottom of your child's mouth. With a laser frenectomy, your child's tongue should be completely healed, and you should no longer have to complete stretching exercises after a month. However, you should consult with your dentist before you stop doing stretching exercises.
In rare cases, a laser frenectomy may not be an option for your child. In these cases, your dentist or pediatrician will likely recommend an electrosurgery or incision frenectomy. However, if you are given the option between the three, you should consider laser surgery as the best.
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