Laser vs. Surgical Frenectomy: Is One Better Than the Other for Your Child?

As we noted last time, the earlier that a tongue or lip tie is released, the better, since a tie can have such a big impact on a child’s orofacial development, not to mention their ability to eat, swallow, breathe, and speak properly. And when a frenectomy is recommended, you have two basic options: surgical or laser.

A fairly straightforward and simple procedure, surgical frenectomy has long been the norm. Once the area to be treated is numb, a doctor uses a scalpel or surgical scissors to cut the tissue. The particular types of incisions, of course, depend on things like the kind of tie involved, its severity, and the doctor’s preferred techniques. Once the frenum has been cut, the site is stitched up so it can heal.

Although the wound closure phase of healing can take two or three weeks on average, the procedure itself is fairly quick and conservative, and it can make a very big difference in a child’s health, growth, and wellness.

Surgical frenectomy is also harder to do in very young children and infants. It’s somewhat invasive and can be overwhelming for little ones, who may squirm or otherwise resist treatment without sedation or gentle restraints. This can present challenges during both cutting and suturing.

Laser frenectomy is far less invasive, quicker and gentler. Lasers do more than just cut, after all. They help sterilize the site and support quick blood clotting. They support the healing process with biostimulation of the tissue. Since the site has a headstart on healing, suturing is seldom needed. Because lasers are so precise, the results of any laser treatment – not just frenectomy – are far more predictable than conventional treatment.

Even well-known ENTs who used to cut only with scissors now use only lasers.

Also like any dental laser treatment, laser frenectomy tends to be much easier and more comfortable for the patient. In fact, a 2019 research review highlighted this as one of the key virtues of laser frenectomy for young patients, along with its efficiency. It was also stressed in a recent case report of laser frenectomy in a two-year old.

Particularly in surgeries on infant patients, the use of surgical laser presented, besides the aforementioned benefits, the speed and efficacy, in the reduction of stress and trauma to the patient.

The authors also noted that research to date has shown that the procedure improves symptoms in 68 to 100% of all patients. In young children, that includes improvements in speech, eating solid foods, and sleep.

Additionally, other studies have related the performance of laser frenectomy with the improvement of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome and the improvement of body posture, by temporomandibular dynamics and the anteroposterior flexion of the scapulas (shoulders) in the sagittal plane.

Head-to-head studies likewise confirm the virtues of the laser. One study published late last year in the Journal of Craniofacial Surgery compared outcomes between 15 kids who had laser frenectomies and 13 who had their tongue ties released surgically. The patients were checked several times after their procedure (at 3 hours, then at 3, 7, and 30 days) for wound healing, pain, and overall satisfaction. ‘

While patients in both groups gave similar feedback with respect to satisfaction with their diet, language, and mental wellbeing, the laser group reported some significant differences. At all points, the laser group reported less pain. They also showed better healing.

In conclusion, Er:YAG laser was superior to the scalpel regarding minor soft-tissue surgery, and it could relieve the pain and discomfort of patients in the early stage of wound .

So why do we opt for laser instead of conventional frenectomy? Because it serves our patients better, and meeting our patients’ mouth/body health needs is why we’re here for parents just like you.