What is an Oversized Labial Frenum?

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An oversized labial frenum is an extra piece of gum flesh that comes down between the 2 front teeth. Very often the flesh is of significant size to cause the 2 front teeth to separate. The result is a large gap between the 2 front teeth. The frenum (or frenulum) is located in the Maxillary (Upper) Jaw and connects to the center of the top lip directly between the Central Incisors. For most individuals the frenum is not a problem.

Unfortunately, for some people the frenum is so large that it not only causes a significant space to form between the 2 front teeth, it also leads to severe gum recession. When orthodontic patients with gaps in their teeth have an oversized labial frenum this extra flesh will hinder the action of their braces by pushing outward against the 2 front teeth. 

Imagine trying to close a car door that has a pillow wedged between the door casing and the door. The pillow will make it very difficult, if not impossible to close the car door. If it is possible to close the car door the process will require more energy than it would if the pillow was subtracted from the equation.  This mirrors what happens when an orthodontic device has to overcome the force of an oversized labial frenum. 

Moving teeth requires a strong and sustained force. Orthodontic devices are designed to tackle the difficult task of moving teeth. The goal of closing gaps between teeth becomes far more challenging if there are additional forces to be overcome. A few of the complications that arise from having to negotiate an oversized labial frenum in addition to the natural resistance of the gum line to tooth movement are: 

1) The extra flesh between the Central Incisors increases the chance that the action of the braces in closing the gap between the 2 front teeth will not be successful.  

2) Even if the braces overcome the force of the oversized labial frenum, the extra flesh will increase the amount of time that it takes to close the gap between the 2 front teeth. 

3) After the gap closes and the orthodontic device is removed the oversized labial frenum will continue to push outward on the teeth and cause the gap to reappear in a very short period of time. For this reason, orthodontic patients that present to their Dentist with a frenum that is deemed to be oversized are advised to undergo a procedure known as a labial frenectomy.

A labial frenectomy is a minimally invasive surgical operation that removes the extra gum flesh. Frenectomy operations are very common. People with dentures will often have a frenectomy performed so that their dentures can be properly fitted into their oral cavity. The removal of the labial frenum greatly decreases the discomfort of wearing dentures.

Patients that have a diastema between their Central Incisors will undergo a frenectomy to allow the space between their 2 front teeth to be eliminated.

A frenectomy can be performed using different methods: 

1) A frenectomy can be performed with a scalpel.

A dental surgeon will anesthetize the patient and remove the oversized labial frenum with the scalpel. 

2) A frenectomy can be performed with a laser.

A dental surgeon will supply general or local anesthesia to a patient and remove the oversized labial frenum with a laser.

Recovery time from a frenectomy procedure varies from person to person. In most cases, a full recovery is achieved within a matter of days. Medication can be prescribed to alleviate any pain that may be experienced during the recovery process. We are often asked if ORA-BAND will close gaps between teeth that are separated by an oversized labial frenum. The answer is yes. However, the extra gum flesh will increase the amount of time that it takes to bring the 2 front teeth together. 

The average ORA-BAND user sees full gap closure within 30 days of the date that they start using the product. A user that has the additional obstacle of an oversized labial frenum will typically take twice that amount of time to achieve gap closure. On top of that, once the gap is closed there is a very high tendency toward relapse of the teeth into their original positions once the use of the bands is discontinued. 

Like all users of orthodontic devices of any type (braces, Invisalign, etc.), ORA-BAND users that have achieved elimination of the spacing between their teeth will have to use some sort of retaining device (Retaining Bands, a custom made permanent retainer) in order to hold their teeth in place so as not to lose the progress that they achieved by wearing the bands. 

A user that has an oversized labial frenum will have to exercise far more discipline and steadfastness in wearing a retaining device than most users of our product. The large volume of gum flesh that lies between the 2 front teeth will always seek to assert itself by pushing outward on the newly joined teeth. Due to this fact, we advise all prospective users of our product that have an oversized labial frenum to investigate the possibility of having a frenectomy performed so that this obstacle can be eliminated. This surgical procedure is relatively inexpensive. Even if one does not have dental insurance to assist in payment for the operation the cost of this dental surgical service is only within the price point of hundreds of dollars. The average cost of a frenectomy ranges from $350.00 to $500.00. 

For those that find their gaps and large labial frenum to be bothersome it is a modest investment in the appearance of their smile. If you have an oversized labial frenum that you would like to be rid of then you should consult with a Dental Surgeon about having a frenectomy performed. The Dental Surgeon will carefully evaluate the area of concern, your healthcare history and dental history. If you are deemed an appropriate candidate for the procedure then the Dental Surgeon will provide you with a detailed explanation of the operation, the associated costs and what to expect during the recovery period. Licensed Dental Surgeons will have local listings. A quick internet search will provide you with numerous practitioners to choose from in your area along with their contact information.

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