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What Is a Frenulum?

A frenulum is a small piece of body tissue that can be found in various parts of the human body. Its purpose is to limit the movement of the part of the body that it is connected to. It is also called a frenum and originates from the Latin word fr?nulum, which means “little bridle”. The plural of frenulum is frenula (frena for frenum).

Frenula is located in several parts of the body: in the mouth - between the upper lip and the gums and under the tongue, in the digestive tract, in the brain, and in the genital area of both men and women. If the frenulum is attached too close or too tightly, the connected body parts may not be able to function properly. In this case, surgery is often required to rectify the situation.

One common condition involving frenula is “tongue-tie”. This condition is technically called ankyloglossia. If a person has this condition, the frenulum linguae is involved. This is the frenulum that connects the tongue to the base of the mouth. An infant with this condition has problems sucking and thus may experience stunted growth. An older child with this condition will have speech problems.

Problems with the maxillary frenulum - the tissue that connects the upper lip to the gums - can cause receding gums and even a gap in between the two front teeth. In some cases, this condition can be a sign of a congenital disease.

In most cases, though, problems with frenula are easily fixed via the surgical procedure called frenectomy.

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