Possible Consequences of Sensory Nerve Injury: Anesthesia

A wisdom tooth abscess is a dental infection that can make life pretty miserable until it is resolved.  It can cause severe swelling, pain, fever, and may make you feel generally unhealthy. Some patients feel very sick and others are unable to eat comfortably when the infection is at its worst.

This general ill feeling and the possible risk to your health might be managed for a short while with antibiotics and pain relievers, although the recommended treatment is to actually have the offending tooth extracted. At that time, any other wisdom teeth that are found to pose a potential risk to your health are often recommended for extraction as well.

As you begin planning for the extraction of your wisdom teeth, remember to discuss the possible consequences with your oral surgeon. One possible consequence is damage to the sensory nerves that are found within the lower jaw, or within the soft tissues around the surgical site. 

The potential risks of sensory nerve anesthesia and other complications are low and should not deter you from addressing the problems associated with a wisdom tooth abscess. 

Sensory nerves are responsible for providing us with the ability to feel various sensations – temperature, pressure, pain, light touch, vibration, etc.  Even though you will be sedated and asleep for your operation, your oral surgeon will use local anesthetics to numb the nerve temporarily during your surgery. This helps keeps you comfortable during the procedure and may last for 10-12 hours after your surgery. Although it produces a funny feeling sensation, the anesthesia will prevent you from feeling any pain or sharpness.

With injury to a sensory nerve, depending on the type of injury, a small percentage of cases will develop numbness as a temporary side-effect that could be prolonged for several days or months in a condition known as paresthesia or anesthesia. The tongue, lips, gums, chin, or face may be involved, and the damage effects the areas around the lower jaw. In a small percentage of cases, the numbness is permanent due to irreversible damage to the sensory nerves. The nerve enters the jawbone in the inner rear portion, closest to the wisdom teeth, and branches out toward the chin. The whole distribution of this nerve will be affected.

The potential risks of sensory nerve anesthesia and other complications are low and should not deter you from addressing the problems associated with a wisdom tooth abscess. To learn more about this condition and other related factors, contact the ORA office of Dr. Steven Koos DDS, MD for an appointment today.