As an Atlanta Dental Malpractice Attorney, I receive many calls from dental patients who have been injured in the dentist’s chair. Some are injured during wisdom tooth extraction, others are injured from nerve block injections and still others suffer their nerve injury after receiving toot canal therapy or a new dental implant. Most ask some form of the same question: “Will my dental nerve injury get better.” The answer, unfortunately is, “it depends.”
The most common dental nerve injuries are to the lingual nerve (with the most likely symptom being a numb tongue, pain in the tongue, or a decreased ability to talk comfortably), the mental nerve (most likely accompanied by a numb lip and/or chin) and the inferior alveolar nerve (most commonly associated with numb lip, chin and gums). Regardless of the nerve injured, the key to reversing the nerve damage is timely treatment. The longer one goes without the feeling in your lip, cheek, gum or tongue coming back, the more likely that the injury will be permanent. If the nerve damage is identified and treated in a timely manner, some cases of nerve damage can be repaired with microneurosurgery. The problem many times is that the dentist who caused the nerve injury is not familiar with the standard of care required of a dentist after the nerve injury has occurred. Many dentists string the patient along without properly treating the patient’s injury. In this scenario, the dentist simply keeps assuring the patient that the injury is temporary and it will get better with time. Unfortunately, I have spoken with many injured dental patients who have followed this improper advice and who have lost their legal rights due to the expiration of the statute of limitations (or the amount of time in which you have to file a lawsuit based on malpractice).
As an attorney who handles many Georgia dental malpractice cases, it concerns me greatly when clients suffer from permanent nerve damage. These are particularly tough injuries to live with and they affect your life every day in many ways that are not apparent until you suffer this type of injury. While not every dental nerve injury is caused by malpractice, it is imperative that an injured patient be timely referred to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon who is experienced in treating nerve injuries for a complete nerve evaluation as soon as possible after the injury is sustained. There are many tests that can be run to pinpoint which dental nerve has been injured, the extent of the injury, whether the injury is getting better or worse, and whether surgical intervention may be indicated to repair the nerve or whether the better course of treatment is to wait and hope that the nerve recovers without surgery.
Robert J. Fleming is an experienced Atlanta dental injury lawyer who handles serious dental malpractice cases throughout the Atlanta area, the Southeast and nationwide. If you would like to discuss your particular case with Mr. Fleming directly, please call him at (404) 923-7497 or contact us online.