Wisdom Tooth Extraction Injuries
Georgia Wisdom Tooth Extraction Injuries
Injuries from wisdom tooth extractions can be debilitating and can significantly alter one's quality of life. Even wisdom teeth that are not impacted are located in close proximity to a number of important nerves and other anatomical structures that can be injured during extraction. These types of injuries are often caused by trauma from improper administration of local anesthetic or improper surgical technique during the extraction resulting in damage that affects the nerves or structures.
Common Causes of Wisdom Tooth Extraction Injuries
The most common cause of wisdom tooth extraction injuries in Georgia is dental malpractice. However, a wisdom tooth extraction injury can result from a number of different situations. Extracting teeth that did not need to come out, improper surgical technique, improper x-rays, inaccurate or fraudulent charting, and failure to refer to a specialist are just a few of the many ways that a dentist can commit dental malpractice during and after a wisdom tooth extraction. Wisdom tooth extraction injuries almost always occur in the mandible (lower jaw) after a wisdom tooth is extracted by a dentist. The extraction of lower wisdom teeth often leads to a dental nerve injury due to the location of the inferior alveolar nerve and the lingual nerve, which run just below the apices of the lower teeth, especially the lower molars. Wisdom tooth extractions can also lead to a broken or fractured jaw.
Should one of the dental nerves in the mouth or jaw be damaged during wisdom tooth extraction, a number of symptoms such as the following can occur:
- Numbness in the lip, chin, or gums;
- Numbness in the face;
- Numbness on the side of the tongue that corresponds to the nerve injury in the case of a lingual nerve injury;
- Sharp, stabbing electrical pain in the jaw and face;
- tingling and numbness sensations in the jaw and face area;
- difficulty talking, eating or smiling as normal;
- altered taste sensation;
- pain that radiates from the jaw area up to the ear;
The main symptom of a broken or fractured jaw following wisdom tooth extraction is extreme pain.
Doctors diagnose wisdom tooth nerve injuries by utilizing a number of techniques including a physical examination to determine the areas and extent of numbness, cone beam CT scans, and x-rays. Sometimes an exact diagnosis is not possible until surgical intervention is conducted so that the surgeon can visualize the nerve at the extraction site to determine what is causing the injury to the nerve.
A broken or fractured jaw can be diagnosed by x-ray or cone beam CT scan.
Wisdom tooth extraction nerve injuries can be treated with:
- pharmacological management (pain medications);
- surgical repair of the nerve damaged during the extraction;
- Anti-inflammatory and oral steroid medications may also be used in combination with these methods to ease pain and lessen inflammation.
Treatment of a a broken or fractured jaw following wisdom tooth extraction depends on whether the break is displaced or not. Depending on the severity of the break, surgical repair may be necessary.
As noted above, if symptoms are severe or if the nerve fails to repair itself over time, microneurosurgery to repair the injured nerves may be performed. During this procedure, the surgeon removes any remaining root tips of the tooth (if it has not already been removed and if it is impinging on the nerve) and any neuromas or scar tissue are removed. This procedure is usually performed under general anesthesia in a hospital setting.
Similarly, if the patient has sustained a displaced or step-form fracture of the jaw following a wisdom tooth extraction, a surgical procedure known as Open Reduction Internal Fixation (ORIF) must be conducted, usually in a hospital setting in order to join the broken bones together and then fixate them (i.e., stabilize them together) so that they do not move and they heal together.
If you recently had a wisdom tooth extracted and are suffering from an injury from this procedure, you may have a legal case for recovery. In most cases, you must file a lawsuit in Georgia within two years of the date of injury (although exceptions to this rule may apply). If you are suffering and have legal questions about your case, please call us today. You can reach Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or call us on (800) 613-1923 for a free case evaluation.