Objective: To systematically review the current literature on the maxillary midline frenum and associated conditions and complications, as well as the recommended treatment options.
Method and Materials: A detailed MEDLINE database search was carried out to provide evidence about the epidemiology, associated pathologies, and treatment options regarding the maxillary frenum. Of the 206 initially identified articles, 48 met the inclusion criteria.
Results: The maxillary frenum is highly associated with a number of syndromes and developmental abnormalities. A hypertrophic frenum may be involved in the etiology of the midline diastema. There is also a tendency by orthodontists to suggest posttreatment removal of the frenum (frenectomy). Studies on the cause of gingival recession due to the maxillary frenum are inconclusive. An injured frenum in combination with other traumas and doubtful history might point to child abuse. The involvement of hyperplastic frena in the pathogenesis of peri-implant diseases remains uncertain. There seems to be a clinical interest regarding lasers for surgery for treatment of maxillary frena. The superiority of laser treatment in relation to conventional surgical methods has not yet been demonstrated in the literature.
Conclusion: A maxillary frenum is a clinical symptom in numerous syndromic conditions and plays a role in the development of the median midline diastema. Nevertheless, the contribution to gingival recession and peri-implant diseases in the region of the maxillary incisors is rather controversial. Laser techniques are reported as the method of choice for the surgical removal of frena; however, this needs to be substantiated by appropriate prospective controlled studies.
Keywords: frenectomy, gingival recession, maxillary frenum, midline diastema, peri-implantitis