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Lingual Nerve Damage – A Risk Of Tooth Removal
Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Every year, thousands of people have their wisdom teeth removed. Wisdom teeth, which are the third set of molars, are often removed when a person is in their teenage years up to their late twenties. The teeth often do not break through the gum until people are in their teens or twenties and some wisdom teeth never erupt and stay completely in the gum tissue. 

If the teeth do erupt from the gums, it can be painful. Tooth removal is not always necessary, but it is a common preventative measure to avoid teeth crowding, eruption, infection, and pain.  Delayed removal can also increase a person’s risk of developing complications. The dentist or oral surgeon will advise their patient of options in regards to removal after examination and x-rays are taken. 

While a common procedure, wisdom tooth removal does carry risks as with all surgical procedures. Bruising, bleeding, and difficulty opening one’s mouth are also risks, but these injuries are often resolved during recovery. “Dry socket” can also occur and is caused by loss of the blood clot from the extraction site.  While incredibly painful, dry socket is not a permanent injury. Permanent injuries can include bone splinters, jaw fractures and lingual nerve injuries. The bottom jaw is also filled with nerve endings that allow us to taste and feel texture with our tongue. The rate of occurrence of lingual nerve injuries is difficult to estimate because the degree of the injury to the lingual nerve and resulting symptoms can vary so widely.

A lingual nerve injury is a devastating event for the injured person. Some lingual nerve injuries will heal within a few days of the procedure, and some injuries are permanent. While lingual nerve injuries can occur during tooth extraction due to the location of the teeth, they can also be caused by the dentist’s instruments. Once the lingual nerve is injured by being severed or nicked by a drill or other instrument, the patient will likely experience some degree of numbness, pain, tingling or lack of sensation in that area of their mouth. Even if the teeth are tilted, difficult to remove, infected, or the patient delayed removal, the dentist or oral surgeon must still take the same degree of care and seek to minimize the risks and damage to the patient during the removal. 

Lingual nerve injuries during tooth extraction are something that everyone should consider when deciding to having wisdom teeth removed. When choosing a dentist or oral surgeon, find out how many of these procedures the dentist or oral surgeon has done, whether they are experienced in removal of impacted teeth, and whether they’ve ever had a malpractice claim filed against them.

It is also imperative to ask the dentist’s expectations for your recovery after removal. Although injuries from the surgery can heal in a few days or weeks, lingual nerve damage can be permanent.  


Learn more about injuries from dental negligence


13 Comments » Comments on this Entry

13 Responses to “Lingual Nerve Damage – A Risk Of Tooth Removal”

  1. There are certain risks associated with both simple and surgical tooth extractions.To help avoid complications following your procedure, practice good oral hygiene, but don’t clean teeth next to an open socket. Use ice to minimize swelling and avoid rinsing your mouth for at least 24 hours.

  2. To remove the wisdom tooth, your dentist will open up the gum tissue over the tooth and take out any bone that is covering the tooth. He or she will separate the tissue connecting the tooth to the bone and then remove the tooth.

  3. Since the delayed removal of the wisdom teeth gives a big risk of complications, it is better to let the dentist know what to do in order to have a good output. The dentist is responsible in taking care of patent’s teeth and of course give a good quality of service to the costumer. Thank you for sharing you ideas with us..

  4. Lost says:

    Please anyone that has had this happen I have started a Facebook group and would love for everyone to end up in one place so that we can share with the world and hopefully make what has happened to us not be in vain.

  5. free dental treatment

    Lingual Nerve Damage – A Risk Of Tooth Removal

  6. Michael says:

    Nerve damage? Never heard that. I mean, I’ve heard of it from inept dentists who should lose their licenses, but never from people who left theirs in. I still have mine, and no problems yet!

  7. Tom D'Amore says:

    Thank you for your comment. Lingual nerve injuries are not well-tracked, as they can vary in severity and permanency.

  8. Norma says:

    Has anyone tried laser treatment for lingual nerve damage? I just started about 6 weeks ago and its made a huge difference after 1.5 years.

  9. Maribel says:

    I had my wisdom tooth pulled out 12-14-12 and today is the 27th and the rt side of my tongue is still numb…hopefully it is not permanent…

  10. Tom D'Amore says:

    Maribel, thank you for your comment. You may want to seek medical advice if your situation does not improve.

  11. Jana says:

    I had my lingual nerve severed in November 2012 and have been seeing a specialist ever since. I cannot feel half of my tongue and have no taste. I have been diagnosed with severe parathesia and it is permanent. I have been told I am a candidate for nerve re-connection surgery and am facing the need to schedule the surgery to be done in Walnut Creek, CA soon. A few weeks ago one half of my nerve began pushing up through my gum line where my wisdom tooth was removed. Now I have no choice but to get surgery as it is extremely painful! Has anyone had this surgery done? Was it successful? The surgeon who originally did the extraction told me I was crazy that I could not have severe pain and no feeling at the same time. It made me search for answers and here I am. Thank you everyone for sharing!

  12. Stacy says:

    Hello, My name is Stacy. last Wednesday I got my wisdom teeth extracted. The next day I noticed the left side of my tongue was still numb.. No hot/cold sensation, no taste, just pure numbness. My doctor put me on a 6 day pack of Medral (steroid). This is my second day, don’t see much change. I do have slight tingling at the tip of my tongue.. It’s on and off.. I noticed a lot of you talking about pain.. I am experiencing no pain.. Just numbness and slight tingles. Can anyone share any input or advice? Any success stories? I am so scared that I will have to live with this forever. I can’t eat.. I can’t sleep.. Very depressed.. Thanks in advance.. Also, recommendation of any lingual nerve repair specialist is welcomed and appreciated (Philadelphia and surrounding areas).

  13. D'Amore Law Group says:

    Stacy, thank you for your comment.
    What is your current situation? Have you been back to the doctor?
    Please feel free to contact us directly at

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