I had my 4 wisdom teeth pulled out last week. I am still having severe numbness on my right lower side. I did see the surgeon who removed the teeth, and she did sensation tests. I am to follow up in 2 weeks.
Is there anything else I can be doing? I am super upset that this is happening. I’m now having trouble eating, chewing, and brushing my teeth. How concerned should I be? What are the odds this will not resolve?
– Elizabeth I.
(See Dr. Hall’s answer below.)
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The nerve to your lower right jaw has been damaged. How it responds will determine on the extent of the damage to the nerve. In time, the nerve will recover from most injuries, but for many it won’t recover.
The nerve that goes to your lower teeth and to your lower lip can run fairly close to the roots of lower wisdom teeth. An x-ray will show how close. For most lower wisdom teeth, the nerve is far enough away that there is no risk of damaging it when the tooth is removed, but for some it can run right up against the root. The surgeon should give the patient an assessment of how much chance there is of damaging the nerve during the surgery, and, as I mentioned in a previous post (How much risk is there of nerve injury during wisdom tooth removal), many surgeons tend to over-state the risk to protect themselves against possible lawsuits.
There are three categories of injury that can happen to this nerve during wisdom tooth removal, and each one will have a different response:
Here’s what to expect in each case:
- Bruised – If the nerve has been bruised, expect to have numbness for about a month, after which feeling will return.
- Crushed – When the nerve is crushed, it has to grow new nerve fibers, and that usually takes a good year to happen.
- Severed – If the nerve is severed, it won’t re-grow and the injury will be permanent.
So don’t expect to see any improvement in two weeks when you go back for your surgeon to check. I’m not sure why she scheduled you in two weeks. I would have scheduled you to come back in four so that there was a chance of some recovery. You could see feeling begin to return in a month, or it could take a year, or the numbness could be permanent.
When the nerve recovers, you will first begin feeling a tingling in your lip, similar to the feeling you get when local anesthetic begins to wear off.
If feeling never returns, reports I have heard have said that the patient accommodates to the numbness, and it isn’t as bad as at the beginning (if that’s any encouragement).
Meanwhile, you ask if there is anything you can do? Not really. You just need to wait for nature to take its course and hope that the nerve heals.
– Dr. Hall
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