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Oral Surgery/nerve damage following wisdom teeth removal


Hello Dr. Teig,

It has been more than two years since I had all four of my wisdom teeth removed. The surgeon said it went well, but I had a feeling of shooting pains in my tongue when I opened my jaw a certain way that concerned me. When I went in, the surgeon told me that it was ridiculous (in so many words) to expect any symptoms to clear up because it had only been two weeks and I had to wait.

I had initially called with my concerns and he said he wanted to see me, which is why I made the appointment (which seems pointless if I was just going to be told to wait - and how long?). Also, they told me it would only take 15 minutes just to check me; however, they had me wait nearly two hours. And when I left, the only "relief" i had was a nurse's suggestion to numb the area by tucking a pad with that numbing solution on it, which did indeed numb it, but at the expense of having everything taste like that awful solution and didn't help the shooting pains, so I was just more miserable. He also said in all his years, he's never heard of anyone describing what I had - but that maybe I just wasn't describing it right. They called me to the point of harassment to follow up, but after that experience, I told them I didn't want to come in again. I never followed up.

Now, years later, I still have a numb streak in my tongue. Today, while brushing, I hit the gums where that wisdom tooth had been and can feel that that is where the streak radiates from.

Is it too much to hope that it's healing? I know it can take years to heal from nerve damage. If it's not, could I find another maxi...surgeon to repair the damage? I am extremely wary of dealing with this again, but it definitely reduces the quality of my life, as sometimes I feel it more than others and it interferes with my enjoyment of food. Any advice would be so greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Stella -  I hate to be one who is going to give you bad news, but if the nerve was damaged or cut from the surgery, it should have be corrected and reattached within a couple of months of the surgery.  Surgical repair early on is the only way to save the nerve.  Without the attachment the nerve will degenerate further.  That is probably where you are.  My suggestion is not see a surgeon to repair the nerve, but instead, make an appointment with a neurologist who might be able to prescribe a medication to help you feel better.  

I truly with you well and hope the neurologist can help decrease your symptoms.

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Joel S. Teig, DMD, Diplomate ABOMS, retired


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.


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

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

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

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