Trigeminal Neuralgia Dental Nerve Injuries

You were injured during a dental procedure and were referred to a specialist. You may have gone to an oral surgeon or neurologist and have been diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia. Or perhaps the general dentist who caused the injury has told you that this is what you are suffering from and not to worry because you will get better soon. While a diagnosis of trigeminal neuralgia may be technically accurate, it is not very specific and does not, in most cases, fully explain which nerve or nerves are injured and what what you need to do once you have learned that this is what you are suffering from. In other words, knowing that you suffer from trigeminal neuralgia, without knowing more, is not very helpful. When you are in this position, often after being injured as a result of a dental procedure, you have more questions and worries than answers. The first thing you should do is see a dental nerve specialist (such as an oral surgeon, micro-neurosurgeon or medical doctor) to determine which nerve has been injured and what caused the injury. Once this is done, you can better understand your options from both a legal and medical/dental standpoint. If you would like to discuss your options at this point, please contact us at (404) 525-5150.

What is Trigeminal Neuralgia?

Trigeminal neuralgia is a disorder of the trigeminal nerve that most often causes extreme pain in the jaw, lips, nose, chin and/or face. Many dental malpractice victims are diagnosed with this condition when they have suffered a traumatic dental nerve injury which is hard to pinpoint. In other words, the medical provider knows that you have suffered an injury somewhere in the dental nerve system, but does not know exactly which nerve has been injured. In fact, almost all cases of trigeminal neuralgia are caused by trauma—most often from a dental procedure that was not performed correctly. However, it is imperative to know which nerve (i.e., which branch) within the trigeminal nerve system is actually injured in order to be able to move forward with a plan for relief and, hopefully, relief and recovery. Knowing your dental history and identifying recent dental procedures that were conducted in the area of the injured nerve usually helps your doctor make a more specific (and more helpful) nerve injury diagnosis. Many of these types of nerve injuries occur in the mandible (lower jaw) although the signs and symptoms that you suffer from may not necessarily be limited to this area. This is because these nerves innervate many other parts of your face and head.

Common Trigeminal Neuralgia Symptoms

Trigeminal neuralgia is among the most painful and frustrating conditions known to man. Touching the face, extreme cold or heat, or even gentle air currents can trigger intense pain in the face, jaw, lips and chin. In other cases, no external trigger is needed to trigger this intense pain. In still other cases, the pain is similar to a migraine on top of a stabbing pain. Therefore, it disrupts one’s way of life since it can be set off by routine activities performed in one’s day-to-day life or by nothing at all. Flair ups of trigeminal neuralgia nerve pain and the fear of triggering an attack can be debilitating to those suffering from this condition. To make matters worse, a lot of trigeminal nerve injuries result in pain and numbness at the same time. This can be very frustrating and can wear on even the strongest of people.

Resulting Trigeminal Neuropathic Pain

Trigeminal neuropathic pain is a condition that occurs when one or more branches of the trigeminal nerve are injured. It results from a nerve injury following a dental procedure and other facial injuries. The pain is usually constant and commonly accompanied by a burning or crawling sensation. A loss of feeling on the face, especially in the chin and jaw, or forehead has also been documented among sufferers. This is known as concomitant symptoms in the medical community and anesthesia dolorosa in the dental community. Anesthesia Dolorosa (literal translation, “painful numbness”) is one of the most dreaded complications of a trigeminal neuralgia nerve injury and it most often occurs when the nerve is damaged during a dental procedure, resulting in numbness in the face, with pain present within the numb area.

What Causes Trigeminal Neuralgia?

Trigeminal neuralgia frequently occurs during root canal procedures resulting in an over extension of a file or overfill of root canal material beyond the apex of the root. It can also occur following extraction of teeth, during the administration of local anesthesia (commonly referred to as novocaine), or following other dental procedures such as the installation of a dental implant in the lower jaw, deep cleanings or orthognathic surgery.

Trigeminal Neuralgia Treatment Options

Many of our dental malpractice clients who are suffering from trigeminal neuralgia are treated with medications such as Lyrica, Neurontin, Tegretol, Gabapentin,Trileptal or some of the commonly prescribed anti-depressant medications. If the injury is addressed in a timely manner, micro-neurosurgery to repair the nerve and to reduce the pressure on the nerve or to interrupt pain signals that are sent to the brain might also be viable options to consider. However, as with any other surgery, there are added risks with this type of surgery and this could lead to increased pain or numbness.

Call attorney Robert J. Fleming directly at directly at (404) 525-5150 or contact us online if you suffer from trigeminal neuralgia and suspect it is a result of dental malpractice. We are here to help.

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