Many of the structures in our mouth are connected by thin membranes, called frena (singular frenum). There is a frenum under your tongue, called the lingual frenum, and we often remove this from babies when it is overdeveloped and causing tongue tie.
But the frena that are most likely to interfere with your dentures are the buccal frena, which connect your gums and your cheeks, and the labial frena, which connect your gums and your lips.
When these frena are large, it can make it hard for dentures to fit securely over your gums. The dentures can irritate the frena/denture-pain-causes’}}}}, which is painful, or the frena can dislodge your dentures. Even people with normal frena can experience this problem because the bony ridge of your teeth can shrink, making the supporting structures closer to the margin of your frena. In fact, you might have several sets of dentures that fit without problem, then have a problem when you get a new set. This can affect both full dentures and partials.
We use a frenotomy, also called a frenectomy, to remove the problematic frena and help your dentures fit better. In the past, this was done with a scalpel or scissors, but we use a laser. The laser makes the procedure extremely quick and precise. There is little discomfort, and healing is relatively quick, quicker than with traditional surgical tools.
During recovery, you might have to stretch the treated areas for about three weeks to make sure they don’t heal back together again. Other times, we might count on healing dentures to keep the areas separated. This means that, for a short time, at least, you might be wearing your dentures at night, too.
A frenotomy is an easy procedure, but not everyone wants it. If you don’t want to get a frenotomy, we can try other approaches to improving denture fit. Sometimes, we might design your dentures with notches around the frena. However, these notches can weaken your dentures, making them more likely to break, especially in response to fulcruming. And it’s not always possible to make the notches wide enough to work effectively around the frena.
Of course, the best solution is implant dentures. Implant dentures secure your replacement teeth in the bone, rather than relying on broad surface contact with your gums. This will also stop bone loss, which then helps your jaw stabilize rather than shrinking down closer to your frena.
If you are having problems with your current dentures, we can evaluate the problems and find the best solution for you. Don’t resign yourself to uncomfortable, unattractive dentures. Please call (803) 781-9090 today for an appointment with Columbia, SC denture dentist Dr. Adam Hahn at Columbia Smiles Dentistry.