If you have undergone dental work and are experiencing symptoms such as facial numbness, tingling, or pain, you may have injured your lingual nerve. Unfortunately, many people who suffer a lingual nerve injury are not aware of it until long after the damage has been done.
In this post, we will explore some of the common causes of lingual nerve damage, as well as signs and symptoms to look out for. We will also discuss some of the treatment options available to those affected by a lingual nerve injury and your legal rights if the injury was caused by a dentist’s negligence.
Common Causes of Lingual Nerve Injuries
The lingual nerve is a branch of the mandibular nerve, which is a division of the trigeminal nerve. The lingual nerve supplies sensation to the tongue. It also innervates the sublingual and submandibular glands, which produce saliva. The salivary glands are important for lubricating the mouth and aid in digestion. The lingual nerve runs along the floor of the mouth and is vulnerable to injury during dental procedures.
Lingual nerve damage due to dental malpractice is an unfortunately common occurrence. Some of the most common causes of this injury include:
There are several ways that the lingual nerve can be damaged during extraction. The most common is when the tooth is pulled without first being loosened. This can cause the nerve to be stretched or torn. Additionally, if the dentist applies too much pressure when removing the tooth, it can crush the nerve. Wisdom teeth extractions are particularly risky, as the nerve is located close to the teeth.
Another common cause of lingual nerve damage is dental implants. Nerve damage can occur when the surgeon accidentally punctures the nerve while placing the implant.
A root canal is a treatment used to repair and save a tooth that is badly decayed or infected. The procedure involves removing the damaged area of the tooth, cleaning and disinfecting it, and then filling and sealing it. While a root canal can be an effective way to treat a damaged tooth, the procedure can also lead to lingual nerve damage if the dentist is not careful.
Local anesthetic injection can damage either by direct physical trauma to the lingual nerve or chemical injury from the local anesthetic itself.
What Does Lingual Nerve Damage Feel Like?
Lingual nerve damage can cause a variety of symptoms, including:
- Numbness in the gums, tongue, cheeks, jaw or face
- Tingling in the gums, tongue, cheeks, jaw or face
- Pain, burning sensation or crawling sensation
- Decreased sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures
- Dry mouth
- Tongue/cheek biting
- Changes in taste
- Difficulty speaking
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms after a dental procedure, it is important to seek care from an oral and maxillofacial surgeon who performs nerve repair surgery at the earliest opportunity. Timing of the nerve repair surgery is crucial to recovery.
How to Test for Lingual Nerve Damage
To determine the extent of the injury, a complete neurosensory evaluation is performed. A CBCT scan and MR Neurography is recommended as well.
How to Treat Lingual Nerve Damage
Treatment for lingual nerve damage will vary depending on the severity of the injury. Some common treatments include:
- Analgesics: Prescription and over-the-counter medications may be recommended to help reduce pain and inflammation.
- Nerve blocks: A local anesthetic can be injected into the area to numb the nerve and reduce pain.
- Corticosteroids: These anti-inflammatory drugs can help to reduce swelling and pain.
- Antidepressants: Some antidepressants have been found to be effective in treating neuropathic pain.
- Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the damage.
How Long Does It Take for Lingual Nerve Damage to Heal?
Healing times will vary depending on the severity of the injury. In some cases, the nerve may regenerate on its own within a few weeks or months. However, in other cases, the damage may be permanent.
Legal Rights after Lingual Nerve Damage Caused by Dental Malpractice
Dental negligence can cause serious and life-altering injuries, and patients have the right to seek justice. If you’ve suffered lingual nerve damage caused by a dentist, it’s important to speak to an attorney who understands Florida medical malpractice law to help you understand your legal rights and options.
Fort Lauderdale dental malpractice Lawyer Lisa Levine has decades of experience handling cases involving all types of dental negligence, including lingual nerve damage. If you were injured by a dentist, contact us today at (855) 551-8060 for a free consultation. In Florida, dental malpractice claims have a 2 year statute of limitations, so it’s important to act quickly to protect your rights.