Lingual nerve injury is a complication most often associated with wisdom teeth removal.
It occurs because, in the region of the wisdom tooth, the lingual nerve often lies very close to the gum and thin bone that lies just on the inside of the crown and root of the wisdom tooth.
The lingual nerve itself supplies taste and sensation to the front 2/3 rds of the tongue. So if you have a lingual nerve injury, it can mean that half your tongue, from side to tip, is both profoundly numb, and devoid of the sense of taste. It can be a devastating injury.
The rate of lingual nerve injury from wisdom teeth removal has been studied in dental colleges and University centres around the world. It is commonly quoted as a random 0.25%-1% chance, with at least half of these incidences reported as a “permanent” effect.
But the real chance (or risk) of you developing a lingual nerve injury is as dependent upon your own personal anatomy (which is random), as upon the expertise of the individual that is performing your wisdom tooth surgery (which is not random, as you determine who treats you).
If you are to prevent a lingual nerve injury from your wisdom tooth removal, the single most effective means of prevention comes with seeking the most expert and experienced clinician to remove your wisdom tooth… and that will normally be a registered and trained specialist.
So always check credentials.
But if you already have a lingual nerve injury, then what chance is there that repair can occur? What is the chance that an operation will fix, or reverse the lingual nerve damage, when the cause of it was itself unpredictable, or because of medical misadventure?
The answer to this has been explored in depth in surgical research papers, looking at both the effectiveness of preventing for lingual nerve injury, as well as for assessing the chance of success of various operations to correct lingual nerve damage when it occurs.
Can a lingual nerve be repaired? Well that all depends on how it was damaged, by whom, how long ago, and the expertise and experience of the person performing the operation at repair.
And what is the overall assessment? The answer is probably no. It can't be repaired.
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