Wisdom teeth extraction is a commonly performed dental surgery. However, like all surgeries, it does come with risks, and one potential complication is nerve damage. Though it’s relatively rare, understanding it can help you recognize the signs and seek appropriate care.
Understanding the Risks
Two nerves are typically at risk during lower wisdom tooth extraction: the inferior alveolar nerve and the lingual nerve. The inferior alveolar nerve provides sensation to your lower teeth, gums, and bottom lip, while the lingual nerve provides sensation to the tongue.
During wisdom teeth removal, these nerves can potentially be bruised, compressed, or in rare cases, cut, leading to changes in sensation, or in very rare cases, loss of sensation.
Recognizing the Symptoms
Symptoms of nerve damage after wisdom teeth extraction can include:
- Numbness or altered sensation in the lower lip, tongue, or chin
- Tingling, like pins and needles
- In rare cases, pain or discomfort in the affected areas
In most cases, these symptoms are temporary and improve within days to weeks. However, in rare cases, they can persist for months or even be permanent.
Prevention and Management
Prevention is the best cure. Experienced oral surgeons use X-rays or even CT scans to understand the location of the nerves relative to the wisdom teeth. This information helps them plan the extraction to minimize the risk of nerve damage.
If nerve damage does occur, most cases resolve on their own over time. However, certain treatments like steroids or surgery can sometimes be beneficial, especially for more severe or prolonged cases.
Dealing with Nerve Damage
If you suspect you may have nerve damage following wisdom tooth extraction, it’s crucial to contact your oral surgeon as soon as possible. They can assess your situation, provide appropriate treatments, and guide you on the path to recovery.
It’s also important to remember that nerve damage is a relatively rare complication. So while it’s good to be informed and vigilant about your oral health, there’s no need to panic. With good surgical planning and careful post-operative care, wisdom teeth extraction is a safe and effective procedure.
Stay informed, stay vigilant, and take care of your oral health. Your smile will thank you!