Wisdom Tooth Nerve Injuries
Have you had your wisdom teeth pulled? It may seem like a relatively routine procedure that most adults have had. In fact, some estimates claim that nearly 85% of all adults have had their wisdom teeth extracted to protect their oral health. However, even the most routine procedures can lead to errors, and mistakes could result in serious or permanent nerve damage, or other harms, that can impact you for the rest of your life. On this blog, we take a look at some of the consequences of nerve damage and other complications sustained in wisdom tooth extraction procedures.
Lingual Nerve Damage
The lingual nerves are essentially what transmit signals between the brain and the tongue, including allowing it to move and sending taste information back to the brain. These nerves run below where the wisdom teeth grow in, and negligence by the surgeon can damage or even sever these nerves, often resulting in loss of sensation including taste. These injuries can also result in pain, numbness, and a serious impact on both daily function and psychological health.
The good news is this nerve damage is not always permanent; 2% of all wisdom tooth extraction procedures result in some form of temporary lingual nerve damage. However, 0.2% of all procedures result in permanent damage.
Inferior Alveolar Nerve Damage
The Inferior Alveolar Nerve (IAN) runs through a canal beneath the teeth, as well. These nerves affect the sensation s along the inner side of your gums. If that nerve is traumatized during the extraction of wisdom teeth (or other teeth) the patient will often experience numbness, tingling and pain. Some clients say it feels like the novacaine shot never wore off. While not affecting the sense of taste, the injury can still be extremely annoying as it will manifest 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
TMJ Problems--Getting a patient to open their mouth wide enough to allow the surgeon to work can sometimes be a challenge. If the surgeon forces the patient to open his/her jaw too wide, and hold it open either by use of a dental block or their hands, the result could be damaging to the patient’s temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and the patient could experience a life long painful condition.
An unskilled dental practitioner can exert more force than the jaw can accept. This can lead to a fracture that causes serious pain. Some of these injuries result in a patient needing their jaw wired shut for up to eight weeks at a time for recovery—often impacting their ability to speak, eat, and drink. It can result in the patient missing up to two months from work as verbal communication is difficult. In some cases, the fracture can be serious enough that it is displaced and surgery is required to place a plate and screws to hold it in place while the bone heals. In rare occasions, jaw bone damage can also result in nerve injuries, as the fracture to the jaw itself could potentially impact the nerves that run through it.
When you go for a tooth extraction, your dentist will have to numb the area in which the dentist is working, and may even opt to put you under general anesthesia for the duration of the surgery. This often helps those who are nervous to remain still and make the experience painless. However, anesthesia is not always perfect: occasionally the anesthesiologist may make a mistake resulting in you experiencing tremendous pain in the procedure or other complications from the chemicals used .
If you or a loved one believes you may have suffered a nerve or other injury as a result of a wisdom tooth extraction, you should not hesitate to reach out to a Columbia dental malpractice lawyer to discuss your legal options. At the Law Offices of Fred B. Goldberg, P.C., we are proud of our status as Maryland’s premier dental malpractice law firm, established through many years of work in the field standing up for consumers’ and patients’ rights.
Trust your case to a seasoned attorney; call the Law Offices of Fred B. Goldberg, P.C. today at (410) 844-5221 and schedule your free consultation!