Can You Sue for Dental Nerve Damage?
Nerves extend throughout your entire body, including your mouth and jaw. It is these nerves that lead to toothache in the case of decay and infection, or that trigger pain if you suffer from a trauma to the mouth. If you are told that you need a dental procedure, the treatment you need will likely mean that your dentist comes in close contact with many of the nerves that are found in your mouth and jaw. Unfortunately, if your procedure isn’t performed with the very highest levels of care and consideration, there is a risk of any one of these nerves – or more – being damaged.
Dental nerve damage can have a long-lasting and debilitating effect. Unfortunately, if your dentist doesn’t use care and attention during your dental procedure, there is a risk that you may suffer from a nerve injury. It could be that your dentist did not take the necessary precautions during your procedure, or that they used equipment that was not suitable for the work that you were having done.
Dental nerve injuries are one of the most common reasons why someone may sue their dentist for negligence. There are some types of dental procedures where nerve damage is a particular risk. These procedures include:
Root canal treatment. The idea of a root canal procedure fills most people with dread, although modern root canal is no more risky or painful than other types of dental treatment. A root canal is very invasive though. Used to remove bacteria from deep within the roots of the teeth, it is the only way to save a tooth affected by a root canal infection. During the procedure, your dentist will need to drill down into the teeth to clean the root canals. Unfortunately, sometimes the sodium hypochlorite that is used to clean the root canal is accidentally injected into the surrounding tissue. If this happens, there is a risk of nerve damage.
Dental implants. Dental implants are the preferred tooth replacement solution for many patients. Unlike other alternatives, dental implants are a standalone treatment and don’t require any support from neighboring teeth. However, for them to be placed, your provider needs to drill down into the bone of the jaw – which is packed with nerves. Incorrect drill placement or incorrect implant size could cause damage to the surrounding nerves.
Dental extraction. If you have a tooth that simply can’t be saved, or if you have too many teeth and it’s necessary to remove one or more to make space in your jaw, you may be advised to have an extraction. Nerve injuries are particularly likely during an extraction since there are a huge number of nerves around each tooth. An excellent dentist should take x-rays of the teeth to be removed to assess the quantity and position of nerves before performing the extraction.
Understanding dental nerve damage
Every patient and injury is different and so it is often not possible to say exactly what the short and long-term effects of a nerve injury might be. Sometimes a patient may suffer from a temporary problem that will resolve itself in time. However, other nerve injuries can be permanent and have ongoing consequences.
The most commonly affected nerve is the inferior alveolar nerve, which runs in a bony channel below the bottom teeth and is responsible for sensations experienced in the lower teeth, chin, gums, and lower lip. Pain, changes in sensation, numbness, and even problems using your jaw can occur if this nerve becomes damaged during dental treatment.
The other key nerve often damaged by negligent dentists is the lingual nerve, which runs across the tongue and can be injured during many different dental treatments. If it is damaged, you may experience changes in or loss of sensation in the tongue, discomfort, and loss of taste.
If you have been affected by dental nerve damage, you may have a claim for dental negligence. Speak to our team today for your no-obligation case review at our Scottsdale, AZ, office at (602) 833-4200.