A dentist says that nerve damage can be caused by the removal of wisdom teeth.

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Here is what Cyndi Blalock, DDS, explains: “Yes, it can if the patient is built with a inferior alveolar nerve running close to the impacted wisdom tooth.”

Dr. Blalock is the owner of Cardinal Dental in St. Peters, MO.

She continues, “While this is a rare situation, it is a known complication.  I don’t remove impacted wisdom teeth, but I do counsel my patients on the possibility of nerve damage if it appears that the roots of the wisdom teeth are close to the nerve canal.”

Nerve Damage from Wisdom Teeth Removal

  • The damage may present with tingling or numbness.
  • It may be temporary or permanent.

In addition to the inferior alveolar nerve, another nerve might sustain damage: the trigeminal nerve, which is one of the 12 cranial nerves.

In this case, the tongue would be affected – with pain, tingling or numbness. These sensations may also involve the teeth, gums, lower lip and even the chin. The trigeminal nerve is a major facial nerve.

However, the damage from a wisdom tooth extraction is usually temporary, though this can go on for up to a few months. In rare cases of severe damage it’s permanent.

A nerve injury from root canal removal (either of the two nerves mentioned) would cause symptoms of only sensation rather than function. There would not be any weakness in the muscles of your tongue and lip.

Before you decide to forego having your impacted wisdom teeth removed due to fear of a nerve injury (which, remember, is usually temporary), remind yourself that making this decision could result in worse problems.

  • Partially grown-in wisdom teeth that are not extracted can cause a bacterial infection.
  • Teeth that have remained non-erupted can cause a cyst – which can damage gum and bone.
  • If the teeth grow in, but are crooked, this can impair bite alignment, leading to jaw pain.
The health of Dr. Blalock’s patients is a top priority at Cardinal Dental. She provides a comfortable and caring environment where she can effectively customize a dental plan to suit the needs of you and your family.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  

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