GingivaArea of MandibularLabialFrenumVentralTongueDorsalTongueArea of LabialMaxillaryFrenumMandibularBuccalFrenumArea of LingualMandibularFrenumOral MucosaLipFIGURE 6—The Frena and Tongue Surfaces
Dental Terminology and Anatomy11The Maxillary Labial FrenumThe maxillary labial frenum is located between the two frontteeth, known as the central incisors.The beginning of thefrenum starts at the gingiva (gum tissue), passes through theoral mucosa, and ends on the lingual (tongue-side) surface ofthe lip. The frenum gains significance only if it’s attached tooclosely to the central incisors. In such a situation, it cancause a space between these two teeth, known as a diastema.The space can be closed through orthodontic work, usingbraces. However, before this can be accomplished, thefrenum must be removed from this area. The frenum maycause the space to reopen if it’s not treated correctly.The Mandibular Labial FrenumThe mandibular labial frenum is located in the lower dentalarch, between the two lower central incisors. This frenumalso begins its attachment in the gingiva and passes throughthe oral mucosa in order to insert itself into the inner surfaceof the lower lip. Like the maxillary labial frenum, it can causea space between the two lower central incisors. Surgicalremoval is often required in such a situation. However, thisprocedure is performed less frequently than the maxillarylabial frenum procedure. The Mandibular Lingual FrenumThe mandibular lingual frenumis located underneath thetongue. It originates in the floor of the mouth and passes tothe under surface of the mucosa. In some children, the lingual frenum is short and tight afterbirth, partially restricting movement of the tongue. This con-dition is called ankyloglossitis—more commonly known astongue-tie.Generally, the frenum draws away naturally dur-ing the first year after birth, and the tongue-tie resolves onits own. Rarely, a child may need to seek treatment if a tightfrenum is interfering with eating and/or speech. Treatmentincludes “releasing” the tongue by a very simple surgerycalled a frenulectomy. Frena is the plural offrenum. Frenulum isan alternate spellingof frenum. Frenula isthe plural of frenulum.
Dental Terminology and Anatomy12It’s normal for toddlers under the age of three to have diffi-culty with words containing “th” and “r.” An evaluation by anexperienced speech pathologist is usually suggested before asurgical frenum release. Many insurance companies won’tcover the surgery unless it’s medically proven to seriouslyhinder either feeding or speech or both.The Buccal FrenumThe buccal frenum can be found on both the maxillary andmandibular arches, in the area of the first premolars, passingfrom the gingiva to the inner surface of the cheek. It’s veryrare that the buccal frenum causes any oral problems orabnormalities.