Posts for: December, 2017
A frenectomy is an oral procedure for removing one or both frenums inside the mouth. A frenum is a piece of tissue connecting interior areas of the mouth together. One frenum is situated on the underside of the tongue and connects it to the bottom of the mouth. A second frenum connects the gums to the interior of the upper lip. Problems can occur when these frenums are too large. At the Children’s Dental Center of New Hampshire, Dr. James McAveeney and Dr. Andrew Cheifetz are your pediatric dentists for performing frenectomies in Amherst.
Types of Frenectomy
There are two types of frenectomy, labial and lingual. A labial frenectomy removes the labial frenum, while a lingual frenectomy removes the lingual frenum. The labial frenum is the one connecting tissue connecting the upper lip and gums. The lingual frenum is the one on the underside of the tongue. A lingual frenectomy is needed when the frenum is too large, resulting in your child becoming tongue-tied at times. A labial frenectomy is needed when the frenum is so prominent that it causes a large gap to form between the two upper front teeth.
To perform either type of frenectomy in Amherst, the area where the frenum is to be removed is first numbed with an anesthetic. A small cut is then made in the frenum. If made to the lingual frenum, the cut frees up the tongue so that it no longer becomes tongue-tied. If made to the labial frenum, the cut allows the gums to be free of the frenum. Once the cut is made in the proper place, it is sewn closed with small sutures to allow the area to heal.
Benefits of a Frenectomy
Having a frenectomy performed when needed can improve your child’s quality of life in several ways. A lingual frenectomy, which eliminates the problem of being tongue-tied, can improve oral communication and make it easier for children to express themselves. In some cases, it also improves appetite because eating normally is no longer a challenge. A labial frenectomy eliminates the gap between the upper front teeth, which often has the effect of improving self-confidence. It also improves biting and chewing functions, while reducing oral discomfort.
Whether one or both types of frenectomy are needed, your child can experience improved quality of life after undergoing a frenectomy. Certain oral and speech functions are improved, and self-confidence is often boosted. For a frenectomy in Amherst, schedule an appointment for your child with either Dr. McAveeney or Dr. Cheifetz by calling the Children’s Dental Center of New Hampshire at (603) 673-1000.
You can't go wrong with an early start caring for your child's teeth and gums. In fact, dental care should begin in earnest when their first tooth appears.
You should begin by gently cleaning your infant's gums and new teeth after each feeding with a clean, water-soaked washcloth or gauze pad. Once they start eating solid food, you should transition to a soft-bristled brush with just a smear of fluoridated toothpaste. Around age 2, you can increase that to a pea-sized amount and begin teach them to brush for themselves.
The next important element in your child's dental care is beginning regular dental visits around their first birthday. There are good reasons to begin visits at this time. There primary teeth should now be erupting in earnest and you'll want to begin prevention measures against tooth decay if needed. You'll also want to get them used to going to the dentist early in life: if you wait a year or two later, they may not respond well to the unfamiliar surroundings of a dental office.
There are also a number of things you can do to support hygiene and dental visits. You should not allow your child to sleep with a pacifier covered or a bottle filled with anything but water. Milk, juices and other sugar-containing liquids will raise the risk of tooth decay. And speaking of sugar, limit their consumption to meal times: snacking constantly on sugar can create an environment ripe for decay.
Of course, dental disease isn't the only hazard your child's teeth may face. Accidents can happen and your child's otherwise healthy teeth could be injured. So, make sure they don't play too close to hard furniture or other features around the house they could fall on. If they should begin playing contact sports, invest in a custom mouth guard — avoiding an injury is well worth the cost.
Getting into dental care with your children as soon as possible will set the foundation for good oral health. And the example you set will stick with them as they take on their own dental care when they're older.
If you would like more information on caring for your child's teeth, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Top 10 Oral Health Tips for Children.”
If your child begins complaining of tooth pain without an accompanying fever or facial swelling, it’s likely not an emergency. Still, you should have us check it—and the sooner the better if the pain persists or keeps your child up at night. There are a number of possible causes, any of which if untreated could be detrimental to their dental health.
Before coming in, though, you can do a cursory check of your child’s mouth to see if you notice any abnormalities. The most common cause for a toothache is tooth decay, which you might be able to see evidence of in the form of cavities or brown spots on the tooth’s biting surfaces. If you notice swollen or reddened gums around a tooth, this could be a possible sign of a localized area of infection known as an abscess. You should also ask your child if they fell or were hit in the mouth and look for any signs of an injury.
If you don’t see anything unusual, there may be another cause—stuck food like popcorn or candy lodged and exerting painful pressure on the gum tissue or tooth. You may be able to intervene in this case: gently floss around the affected tooth to try to dislodge any food particles. The pain may ease if you’re able to remove any. Even so, if you see abnormalities in the mouth or the pain doesn’t subside, you should definitely plan to come in for an examination.
In the meantime, you can help ease discomfort with a child-appropriate dose of ibuprofen or acetaminophen. An ice pack against the outside jaw may also help, but be careful not to apply ice directly to the skin. And under no circumstances rub aspirin or other painkiller directly on the gums—like ice, these products can burn the skin. If these efforts don’t help you should try to see us the same day or first thing the next morning for advanced treatment.
The main thing is not to panic. Knowing what to look for and when to see us will help ensure your child’s tooth pain will be cared for promptly.
If you would like more information on handling dental issues with your child, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “A Child’s Toothache.”