How Can Wisdom Tooth Removal Cause Nerve Damage?

Can Extraction of Wisdom Teeth Cause More Problems?

Removing wisdom teeth is a common occurrence. Many people have them removed because of crowded teeth, and others have wisdom teeth removal by choice to avoid problems later. On occasion, after having their wisdom teeth removed, a patient feels considerable pain after wisdom teeth surgery. One of the possible reasons is because there has been some nerve damage.

What It Feels Like

Although you may not feel any pain right after the surgery, pain from lingual nerve damage will tend to be rather painful, and it will not stop. You may experience sensations such as numbness, burning, shocks, tingling, or like something is crawling on you. Many people say it feels like a burning sensation.

How It Can Affect You

The various sensations that you will feel are apt to affect you rather strongly. Because the nerve near the wisdom teeth (the lingual nerve) affects your tongue, chin, and lower lip, it is possible that it will suddenly change the way you taste food, and how you chew food or drink liquids. It is also just as likely to alter the way you speak and kiss. All of this means that it can quickly change your quality of life.

How Long the nerve damage Lasts

Generally, most people (about 90 percent) that have nerve damage after tooth extraction, will recover from it within eight weeks, but it can take as long as six months. After that period of time, the damage is considered permanent.

How It Occurs

Before pulling a wisdom tooth, the dentist will take an x-ray. The nerves that affect your tongue, chin, and lower lip will be visible on the x-ray. If the nerve runs too close to the tooth, the dentist may decide not to pull it because there would be an increased risk of nerve damage.

On the other hand, accidents can occur. Many times these are not necessarily the fault of the dentist, but unforeseen accidents. Patients over the age of 25 also have an increased risk of nerve damage because the roots of the wisdom teeth are longer.

Nerve damage after a wisdom tooth extraction can happen as a result of several things. When the dentist injects you with the painkiller, it is possible that the needle may nick, or even go through the nerve. In some cases, the chemical makeup of the anesthesia may also damage the nerve.

Other ways that a lingual nerve can be damaged include the use of a dental tool, when pulling back the gums to get a better view; it may bruise the nerve by putting pressure on it. The dentist may also need to cut the gums, and may accidentally cut the nerve. It may also be necessary to remove some of the bone in your jaw to more easily remove the wisdom tooth. During the extraction, the area may bleed and that will put pressure on the nerve. Inflammation could also put pressure on the nerve. Of course, it is also possible that the nerve is severed during the oral surgery.

Getting Treatment for It

If the pain from the nerve damage after surgery does not ease on its own, which it usually does in about 90 percent of the cases, there are four different types of treatment to help give you some lingual nerve injury pain relief. This includes:

  • Medication – Being that the damaged nerve can result in considerable pain, three different types of medication may be used: analgesics (possibly  including narcotics), antiepileptics, and antidepressants.

  • Laser treatment – A low level laser is used to radiate the area of the nerve and has been found to be helpful in providing faster healing.

  • Surgery – If the nerve has been severed, then surgery is necessary. In it, the surgeon will reconnect the two ends of the nerve together. In many cases, though, a complete recovery of the nerve is rare. It is considered successful if some improvement has occurred.

  • Various forms of therapy – These therapies may include biofeedback, cognitive behavioral therapy, acupuncture, and more.

Talk to the Dentist Beforehand

If you are facing removal of one or more wisdom teeth, be sure to discuss the risks with the dentist first. You want to know what they are. You also need to know that all surgery carries some risks with it.

Best Time for Removal of Wisdom Teeth

The younger a person is, the less likely it is that wisdom tooth removal will result in nerve damage. Since the roots of the wisdom teeth are still rather short, the risk of damage is less because they are still at a safer distance from the nerve.

If you are currently experiencing wisdom tooth extraction complications and nerve damage, Dr. Kumar T. Vadivel, DDS, FDS RCS, MS, a Board certified Periodontist, may be able to help. He has helped patients with lingual nerve injury and may be able to help you. He has offices in the Carrollton, TX and Grapevine, TX areas. For more information, or to set up an appointment, call his office today at 214-731-0123.