According to a recent BBC News and Health article, which analyzed a study in the British Dental Journal, approximately 1% of dental implant procedures performed each year result in nerve injuries. Dentists should improve care before and after implant surgery, the study says. A dental implant is an artificial tooth root, which is screw or cylinder-shaped, that is placed into the jaw to hold a replacement tooth or bridge. Dental implants are generally used if someone has lost a tooth or teeth due to disease or injury. The type of nerve injury which can be caused by implant surgery has increased in recent years alongside a rise in implant surgery. Approximately 10,000 lower jaw implant procedures are performed each year in the UK and in 2007, 30% of all nerve injuries cause by dental work were associated with implants. This contrasts with 10% in 1997. This is almost certainly due to the increased acceptance and usage of dental implants after extractions. The King’s College London research team found that these injuries could have a significant impact on people’s quality of life with more than half of the 30 patients participating in the research suffering from constant pain or discomfort after surgery and 40% complaining of numbness. 30% of the implant injury patients reported psychological problems, including four who were diagnosed with depression. Most of the injuries revolved around the trigeminal nerves such as the inferior alveolar nerve, the mental nerve and the lingual nerve.
70% of the 30 patients were referred to a nerve specialist more than 6 months after surgery, despite evidence showing that removing implants soon after surgery reduces the risk of permanent damage. In addition, a referral after 6 months reduces the likelihood that the nerve specialist will be able to properly diagnose and surgically repair the injured nerve, if that is the course of treatment that is warranted. If the micro-neurosurgeon determines that the best course of treatment is surgical repair, the surgery must be performed as soon as possible. In other words, the longer the injury goes untreated, the less likely that the surgical repair will be successful. Many times, the dentist who caused the nerve injury is reluctant to refer the injured patient to a specialist and this is below the standard of care to not timely refer a patient with a dental nerve injury to a nerve specialist. However, the proper course of treatment is to refer the patient out in a timely manner and to have continuity of treatment.
Attorney Robert J. Fleming has been handling wrongful death cases, automobile accident cases, personal injury cases, dental malpractice and medical malpractice lawsuits 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 in and around Atlanta, Georgia and its surrounding areas, 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 quality legal representation, contact Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online.