Nerve damage during Oral Surgery

How Dental Nerve Damage Can Affect You


On some occasions, some types of dental surgery may result in damage to the nerve (the lingual nerve) in your lower jaw. The injury is accidental, but it does occur. This kind of dental nerve damage affects the nerves in the lower lip, the tongue, and the chin. In most cases, this type of injury is temporary and recovery takes place within eight weeks.


How It May Occur

During any oral surgical procedure on the back teeth of your lower jaw, it is possible for a lingual nerve injury to occur. It is a risk that can take place during the removal of wisdom teeth while installing dental implants, root canal treatment, and during surgeries to the face or mouth.

Pain or other sensations can be caused when a nerve is injured or severed. A lingual nerve injury can occur from many things, including from a needle when injecting the pain medication, from pulling gum tissues out of the way, from cutting the gums, placing an implant, during suturing, from a bruise on the nerve, or from compression of it – or possibly from inflammation.  

There are several other ways that it may occur. This includes damage from the eruption of a blood vessel, which puts pressure on the nerve; or from the anesthetic itself damaging the nerve.

In some rare cases, the dentist may choose to leave the tips of the roots of a wisdom tooth in place. This will be done because the dentist believes that they are too close to the nerve to try and remove them. If attempted, the nerves would likely be damaged.



Nerve Damage and Dental Implants




Damage to the nerves in the jaw can rather easily occur during implant surgery. Every step of the procedure has the possibility of damage to the nerve. In addition to the above mentioned possible occasions for damage, there is also the problem of using surgical instruments to stretch tissue or to compress it while placing an implant. The risk varies based on where it is placed.


In the event of nerve damage caused by the placing of an implant, recovery may involve a few steps. Generally, the sensation of temperature and pain will recover first, and others may follow.

How It May Affect You

The resultant injury to the nerve may affect you in different ways, says the Oral Facial Surgery Institute. In many situations, various sensations may be felt, such as tingling, numbness, the feeling of something crawling on you, burning, shocks, or being extra sensitive in that area. For most people affected by nerve damage, the sensation is continuous.


The feelings may affect you by altering how you taste, chew, drink liquids, speak, kiss, and eat. These new feelings – or a lack of them – can drastically change how you do things. For some people, it can be hard to handle and may affect their quality of life. If these changes persist for more than six months, it is considered permanent.

Dental Nerve Damage Treatment

There are generally four methods of treatment for a nerve injury of this type. The National Institute of Health says that lingual nerve damage treatment is fourfold:

  • The use of medication (may include narcotics) – Three main types of medication may be used, including analgesics, antidepressants, and antiepileptics.


  • Laser treatment may help recover some sensation – The laser has been valuable to help recovery when used at low light levels. It can also be helpful when used before and after nerve surgery.


  • Surgery to restore nerves – Several types of surgery is used to treat damaged nerves.


  • Hypnosis and other therapy - Various therapies have been used with some success, including cognitive behavioral therapy, biofeedback, acupuncture, relaxation therapy, and more.


Recovery Periods


                           

When nerve damage is from the extraction of a wisdom tooth, recovery will most likely occur within the first three months. At about six months, about half of those with nerve damage will be recovered.


If the nerve damage is caused by an injection, most people recover completely within eight weeks. When recovery takes longer than that, full recovery is not likely.


Risk Factors

The greatest risk factor for potential nerve damage during a dental procedure is age, particularly in the case of wisdom teeth. After age 25, the wisdom teeth are more fully developed and the roots are longer and more complex, making it more difficult to remove them. This can make it easier for damage to occur to a nerve.


If you are experiencing some nerve pain after surgery, or tooth pain, Dr. Kumar T. Vadivel, DDS, FDS RCS, MS, a Board certified Periodontist, may be able to help you get relief from tooth nerve damage. 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.

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