Hi Doctor Hall,
I had my lower wisdom teeth extracted about three months ago. Since the surgery I can no longer feel my tongue. In my understanding lingual nerve damage usually effects either one side or the other.
My mouth is also severely dry. This is very perplexing to the doctors and I have received many second opinions – none of which have amounted to answers. Do you have any insight on this? An allergic reaction to the injection medicine? Any answers or new avenues you could reveal would be most helpful. Thank you!
Jenny from Louisiana
The lingual nerve, which is the nerve that goes to your tongue, runs along the inside of your jaw close to your wisdom tooth. Its course varies somewhat from person to person, so a dentist is wise to keep any incisions of tissue that are over the wisdom tooth well toward the cheek side (called the buccal side) of the tooth.
Lingual nerve damage after the extraction of a wisdom tooth can be either because the nerve is severed by the incision of the dentist, or because it is compressed and traumatized either during the surgery or as a result of the swelling afterward. If the nerve is severed, there is little hope that it will grow back. If it is slightly bruised, it can recover within about a month. If it is badly bruised or crushed, it can take it about a year or more to heal.
There are two lingual nerves. One goes to each side of your tongue. If your entire tongue is numb, that means that both lingual nerves were damaged.
As far as your dry mouth, there isn’t anything during the actual wisdom tooth extraction that I believe would cause that. There is no way it could be an allergic reaction to any injections, because those medications have been long since totally eliminated from your body. So how can you still be having an allergic reaction to something that isn’t there? There are a couple of possible explanations.
One is that it could be related to the numbness in your tongue. Taste sensations provoke salivary flow. Since your taste sensations have been numbed, it seems reasonable to think that you would have reduced salivary flow.
However, when you say that your mouth is “severely dry,” that leads me to think it is burning mouth syndrome. Stress can also cause a reduction in saliva flow, and that persistent extreme dryness in the mouth can lead to a burning sensation, which gives this syndrome its name. This syndrome is poorly understood, and I have received a number of communications from patients who have told me it has perplexed their dentist and it took going to a specialist to have it diagnosed.
– Dr. Hall
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