According to a recent article in the a respected medical journal, there is an increase in the number of dental nerve injuries following the placement of dental implants. More importantly, the genesis of the article is that this rise in the number of injuries can be avoided. Most dental nerve injuries occur after the incorrect placement of a dental implant in the lower jaw (or mandible). When the dentist does not correctly measure the available bone height between the top of the jawbone and the top of the inferior alveolar nerve, an avoidable dental nerve injury is likely to occur.
With the advent of numerous technological advancements that are not available to measure and map the jaw prior to placement of implants, these types of inferior alveolar nerve injuries are almost always due to malpractice on the part of the dentist. In my experience, most of these injuries are caused by general dentists, who are not aware of the standard of care for placing implants, and try to place implants in their office instead of referring the patient out to a specialist such as an oral surgeon, to complete the implants. Most times, the oral surgeon will plan and place the implants and then refer the patient back to the general dentist to place the crown on the implant.
Symptoms commonly experienced after a dental patient sustains an inferior alveolar nerve injury are:
- Numbness or pain in the chin, lips, and gums;
- A tingling or electrical shock sensation in the chin, lips, and gums;
- A burning pain in the chin, lips, and gums;
- Impaired speech.
Many of these injuries become permanent if they are not treated in a timely manner. This requires the treating general dentist to properly follow-up with the patient, address and diagnose the injury, perform all of the mandatory tests to determine the exact nature of the injury, and timely refer the patient to a specialist so that she can get the care and treatment needed to address the problem in a timely fashion. Many general dentists are not qualified to do this, and that is why it is imperative that they make the timely referral to an oral surgeon nerve specialist who is, in order to properly diagnose and treat the nerve injury. Absent this, the patient runs the risk of sustaining a permanent nerve injury.
Robert J. Fleming has been handling dental malpractice, bus accidents, car accident cases and premises injury cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 20 years. He practices in and around the Atlanta, Georgia area including handling lawsuits in Fulton, DeKalb, Clayton, Gwinnett, Cobb and other counties and nearby cities including Alpharetta, Austell, Avondale Estates, Chamblee, College Park, Conyers, Duluth, Decatur, Doraville, Hapeville, Johns Creek, Jonesboro, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Peachtree City, Riverdale, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Stone Mountain, and Smyrna. If you have been seriously injured and would like discuss your case in complete confidence, contact Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online.