There are a number of dental procedures that can, if the dentist doesn’t take adequate care or is not competent enough to carry out the treatment, result in temporary or permanent nerve damage in their patient.
The trigeminal nerve is the one usually affected because parts of it are in close proximity to the jaw and mouth and it is the nerve responsible for feeling/sensation in the face, as well as for functions such as chewing and biting.
What are the symptoms of nerve damage?
Some of the symptoms that you may have nerve damage after receiving dental treatment include:
- Numbness or lack of feeling in the tongue, gums, cheeks, jaw or face
- A tingling or pulling sensation in these areas
- Pain or a burning feeling in these areas
- Loss of ability to taste
- Difficulties with speech due to one or more of the above
- Difficulties with eating due to one or more of the above
Nerve damage symptoms can last for a short time after the procedure, or can be permanent, in some cases, where the damage done during the dental procedure was severe.
Not all nerve damage after dental treatment is due to the negligence of a dentist, but if your dentist has not taken the care that they should, it may be that the damage caused could have been avoided if not for their mistake(s).
What types of dental treatments are most likely to result in nerve damage?
Whilst most dental procedures go to plan and no nerve damage is caused, there are some types of treatment that are higher risk than others for this kind of injury.
Nerve damage from tooth extractions
As parts of the trigeminal nerve are close to the areas affected when a tooth is extracted, damage can sometimes be caused when this type of procedure is carried out. It could be a normal adult tooth or a wisdom tooth that need extracting, for any of a number of reasons. Your dentist should always explain the risk of potential nerve damage to you before you agree to treatment like this. If they fail to inform you of the risks and don’t fully explain the procedure, this could potentially mean you are eligible to make a compensation claim for your dentist’s failure to obtain consent, especially if the treatment results in nerve damage.
Nerve damage from dental Implants
As part of the process for fitting dental implants, holes are drilled into the jaw, and if the dentist mistakenly drills too far, this could result in nerve damage. Another way that this procedure can cause nerve damage is if the implant itself is longer than it should be, so presses on the nerve once in place.
Nerve damage from root canal treatment
Root canal treatment (also called endodontic treatment) that aims to repair and save a tooth that is infected or damaged. To carry out this procedure, the dentist must remove the nerve and pulp from the affected tooth before cleaning away any bacteria and sealing it to prevent reinfection. This type of treatment can sometimes cause nerve damage if the procedure causes trauma to the surrounding area or if the solution used as part of the cleaning process is allowed to infiltrate other parts of the mouth or jaw.