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Oral Surgery/Lingual Nerve Damage

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Question
Hello,  
I got all 4 wisdom teeth extracted last Wed. Since then I've experience a dead numb left side of tongue. I have no pain in my tongue, just numbness and loss taste and sensation. Occasionally I will have some brief tingles in the tip.. It doesn't run all the way through the left side of my tongue, just tip.. I noticed that sucking on my tongue instantly triggers the tingles. My doctor currently put me on a 6 day pack of steroids (midral). It's my second day, I don't see much of a difference. I am only 24 and very scared that this damage is permanent. Because I have more numbness than tingle does this suggest more of a severe damage to the nerve? Are there any scans that can be done to determine the extinct of the damage? If its completely severed of course I would want correction surgery right  away. However, if it's bruised or damaged I can wait for natural healing. As you can imagine I am loosing my mind. Haven't really ate since this whole ordeal.

Please help, Stacey

Answer
Stacey -  First of all, since you have some tingling, even though not much, it means that at least a portion of the nerve is still working to some extent.  As this time, a little more than a few days, it is probably best to let the area rest.  Occasionally this occurs from just a pinching of the area or minor trauma and will resolve. I am not a fan of the steroid, but it should not be a problem.  Better yet, immediately begin a regimen of warm salt water rinses for 3-4 minutes, 4-5 times a day.  The warm salt water increase the blood flow through the area and help to reduce any inflammation or internal swelling from the trauma to the lingual nerve.  If there is no change whatsoever, you will need to be evaluated by a board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon who does nerve repairs.  Not all do it so you will need to do a little research or if you wish, you can get back to me and hopefully I can find someone fairly close to you to help.  

You should not wait more than 4 weeks to address the repair of the nerve and find a skilled surgeon.  So right now, do the rinsing and you can take the steroid.  I hope you begin to notice a further itching, burning or even shocks -indications that he nerve is not severed.

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Joel S. Teig, DMD, Diplomate ABOMS, retired

Expertise

I am a board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon available to answer questions related to tooth extractions, implant insertion, facial recontruction, facial and oral tumor removal, TMJ dysfunction and various successful treatments, including surgery if all else fails, and occlusal discrepancy requiring orthognathic or jaw surgery.

Experience

Board Certified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon practicing for over 20 years. Assistant Clincal Professor at State University School of Dentistry.

Organizations
American Dental Association, American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons

Education/Credentials
BA- University of Connecticut DMD-University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine Oral and Maxillofacial Surgical Residency - Roosevelt Hospital, NYC

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