Dental procedures in the area of the lingual and inferior alveolar nerves are the most common cause of nerve damage. Negligently placed dental implants and improperly performed root canals in the lower jaw can cause inferior alveolar nerve damage. Other negligent procedures such as wisdom tooth extractions can cause lingual nerve damage. If your dentist has identified nerve damage during or shortly after the procedure, a referral to a qualified nerve specialist should be made as soon as possible. Delay can often result in permanent nerve damage. Surgical repairs, when done within the window of time when they have the greatest chance of success, can often reduce numbness and pain, and bring back normal sensation to the affected areas. That is why it is important to refer out to a qualified oral surgeon or micro-neurosurgeon in a timely manner.
The exact mechanism of injury is often not clear until all of the patient records are obtained and studies. However, it is common in dental malpractice cases to see a negligently installed implanted invading the inferior alveolar canal; the lingual nerve or inferior alveolar nerve being severed from an extraction; or root canal material in the nerve. Other possible causes are: (1) direct trauma from the injection needle, wherein the needle contacts the nerve directly traumatizing the nerve and producing a change in sensation. When the mouth is open, the lingual nerve is held taut within the interpterygoid fascia, and because of its fixation, special care and attention must be taken to properly administer the injection; (2) hematoma formation wherein it has been hypothesized that the needle may traumatize the blood vessels in close proximity to the nerve, creating a hematoma; and (3) neurotoxicity of the local anesthetic agent used in the injections wherein some dental experts opine that 4% local anesthetics such as articaine have caused more injuries per use than lidocaine. Both of these anesthetics are supplied at higher concentrations (i.e., they are twice as toxic). Some of the dental literature on this area of injury describe the effect of the 4% solution on the nerve and conclude that the increased risk of these local anesthetics is not worth the benefit, if any. In other words, the literature suggests that it is below the standard of care to subject the patient to an increase risk of nerve injury because there is not clear evidence that these solutions are more effective than Lidocaine.
As a dental malpractice lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia, I often speak with malpractice victims who have suffered a dental nerve injury, but continue to treat solely with the dentist who caused the injury. If you have suffered a dental nerve injury and would like to discuss your case, please call (404) 923-7497 or contact us online. Attorney Fleming has been handling 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.