Injuries to the trigeminal nerve (which provides feeling to the face, lips and tongue) may occur following wisdom tooth extractions, dental implant placement, root canal treatment, facial trauma or other oral surgical procedures. Patients may experience numbness of the lip, chin or tongue or loss of taste. Alternatively they may experience pain. Without intervention, patients may experience permanent numbness, pain, or loss of taste.
The most important factor for a successful outcome is immediate evaluation by a trained microneurosurgeon, such as Drs. Lohr and Hollabaugh. We prefer to see patients as early as possible following the injury if they experience these symptoms. Surgical management is most successful within 90 days following the injury. Please contact our office today if you believe you may have a nerve injury.
ABOUT NERVE INJURIES
The trigeminal nerve provides many branches through the face and mouth. Two important branches are the inferior alveolar nerve and lingual nerve. The inferior alveolar nerve is the nerve responsible for sensation in the lip, chin and lower teeth. The lingual nerve is responsible for taste and sensation in the tongue. Due to the close proximity of these nerves to your teeth, they can be injured in oral surgery and dental procedures.
- Decreased sensation or mild numbness (hypoesthesia) in lips, chin or tongue
- Burning or pins and needles sensation (parasthesias) in lips, chin or tongue
- Painful sensations (dysesthesia) in lips, chin or tongue
- Complete numbness (anesthesia) in lips, chin or tongue
- Loss of taste in tongue
Nerves are evaluated with sensory testing and MR neurography which is a special type of MRI to determine the grade of injury. For a high grade nerve injury, a successful outcome requires a nerve repair procedure. Ideally, nerves are repaired within 90 days of the injury, which is why early evaluation by a qualified specialist is critical. Without repair, many nerve injuries will result in permanent numbness or loss of taste.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Your first appointment with Drs. Lohr and Hollabaugh will involve obtaining a history of the injury, a thorough evaluation, and any necessary imaging. After we complete our assessment, we will extensively discuss your grade of injury with you, the prognosis, and treatment options.
Nerve repair is a highly specialized procedure that Drs. Lohr and Hollabaugh perform together under a microscope. Although the procedure is minimally invasive, patients receive general anesthesia due to the meticulous nature of our repair. Following the procedure, patients are able to go home once they are awake and immediately resume a normal diet.