According to a recent article, dental implants are riskier than many are lead to believe. As an Atlanta lawyer who specializes in dental malpractice, I have seen a wave of dental malpractice claims related to the improper placement of dental implants. To be sure, the technological advancements regarding dental implants are stunning, but the implant is only as good as the dentist who installs it.
To that end, we see many clients presenting with dental nerve injuries caused by implants that were too big for the application or which were installed too deep into the jaw line. This results in permanent nerve damage.
The most common nerves injured in implant dentistry are the inferior alveolar nerve (IAN) and its mental branch also called the mental nerve by many dentists. Other nerves at risk include the lingual nerve, long buccal nerve and the infraobital nerve because of the anatomic location of these structures which are in close proximity to the dental implant posts in the lower or upper jaw. Neurosensory impairment may occur during all phases of dental implant surgery, including but not limited to, incisions, soft tissue reflection, osteotomy preparation, bone augmentation, implant placement, suturing, or bleeding or swelling after surgical placement of the implant. The reported incidence of such nerve injuries following dental implant procedures is reported as high as 40%, however this incidence rate seems high to me and I have to believe the vast majority of dental implants are completed without incident.
However, when a nerve injury occurs, the dentist should be able to recognize the type and extent of injury and provide the most appropriate post-operative care in a timely manner. Traumatic nerve complications may involve total or partial nerve resection, crushing, stretching, or entrapment injuries. The resulting sensory deficits may range from a non-painful minor loss of sensation to a permanent and severe debilitating pain dysfunction. Worse yet, many people who suffer a dental nerve injury to one of the nerves that we have been talking about suffer from pain and numbness to the same area at the same time. While this seems hard to fathom to those who do not suffer from this injury, anyone who has suffered from this injury can tell you why and how it changes one’s life.
The most significant host factors related to implant dentistry are the patients’ age and gender. It is well documented, for all types of nerve injuries that both females and increasing age are at greater risk of nerve injuries caused by dental procedures. In older individuals, cell body regeneration has been shown to be slower and less dramatic than in younger individuals, which translates into the fact that most older people who suffer from nerve injuries as a result of dental malpractice never recover.
Attorney Robert J. 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.