Monday, April 8, 2013

A must-read from the National Institutes of Health

After my own lingual nerve injury, my life has changed. As a mother, I am torn on whether to allow my children to get their wisdom teeth extracted. My daughter's dentist has been saying for 2 years now that it "must" be daughter seen what I have gone through, but still feels obligated by what her Dentist has instructed her. I mean, aren't we all supposed to follow doctor's orders?
Now, read this:

The evidence is compelling that prophylactic extraction of third molars is a significant public health hazard. It is a silent epidemic of iatrogenic injury that warrants avoidance of the extraction of any third molar in the absence of a pathologic condition or a specific problem.

...When fully formed, the roots frequently lie close to the right and left mandibular nerves, which run along the jaw beneath or between the roots. The risk of permanent paresthesia following extraction of a mesioangular impaction is as high as 6.8%, much higher than for other types of unerupted or impacted teeth. More than 95% of these teeth will never cause any problem. ...would continue to erupt into normal position in the mouth if left alone. There can be no excuse for tolerating so many unnecessary extractions on millions of unsuspecting and misled people and putting them at risk of so much iatrogenic nerve injury.

Quote: The British National Institute for Clinical Excellence is unequivocal in its recommendation, adopted by the National Health Service: “The practice of prophylactic removal of pathology-free impacted third molars should be discontinued. . . . There is no reliable evidence to support a health benefit to patients from the prophylactic removal of pathology-free impacted teeth. The conditions for which extraction is justified include nonrestorable dental caries, pulpal infection, cellulitis, recurrent pericoronitis, abscesses, cysts, and fractures.

As you know, my injury was not caused by wisdom teeth extraction, but by simple need stick during a cavity filling procedure. However, most LND is done during wisdom teeth removal. The dental industry is using procedures that put the public at risk, and no one is holding them accountable. The article even mentions that lawsuits are rarely won, because the patient supposedly "knows the risks" before work is started. I didn't know of any risk before I was injured. Did you? 

And even if you were fully informed, you take a risk doing lots of things - it's not like I signed a waiver and went bungee jumping...I was told I needed a filling done. That's it. Yet, I would lose in court if any lawyer would take my case (which they won't, I've been turned down by 6 of them).

If a patient takes all reasonable care, then trusts a medical practitioner who forces an unnecessary procedure or rushes the job, resulting in injury, someone should be responsible for permanently injuring a patient.
Write your lawmakers!

Feel free to cite this article in your emails and letters. (Note - citations were moved for this summary; full article, with citations, is available at


  1. Hi Jane, I personally would not allow my kids to take out their wisdom teeth, unless they afto, due to Constant Pain. And keep in mind, when your wisdom teeth is growing out, you will feel pain every now and a again which is normal until it is fully grown out. There or other alternatives, for example, If she has over crowding and need braces, Instead of removing the wisdom teeth. The Ortho can extract the Bicuspids instead, which has a MUCH lower risk of injury than the wisdom teeth. So personally I would try to convince her as much as possible not to get them extracted unless its absolutely necessary. Feeling a slight pain every once in a while is nothing compared to constant pain for years.

  2. Hi:

    I am hoping you still check this board. I have had problems with tongue pain since undergoing a frenectomy in March 2013 (they snip the little connector on the floor of your mouth). Burning tongue ever since. Have taken Percocet to take the edge off the burn, and am trying Cymbalta, too. In the meantime, a pain management expert is recommending that I undergo a stellate ganglion nerve block to test whether this is in my sympathetic nerve system....which is a diagnostic tool and, in some cases, a treatment tool as well. I am terrified by the possible side effects, and anxious about having "just" a minor procedure--that's what started me on this awful journey. If anyone else has tried a nerve block, I would appreciate hearing how it went. Thank you so much.

  3. Hi Janice,

    Yes, a few people have written about nerve blocks, though not sure it is the same (stellar ganglion) block you are scheduled for.

    Several people have discussed their experience with nerve blocks also on our Facebook page (Amy Weins is administrator of the page, and can add you if you send a friend request to dental lingual nerve damage on FB)

    I personally have only had a casual block done in the orofacial pain specialists' office; a combo of steroid and septocaine, if I remember correctly. It gave me a couple days of lovely pain relief, then wore off.

    I'm sure we would all be most interested in hearing how you progress. Hang in there, you have friends here who understand.

  4. Happy to have found this blog. I had my failed surgery in late March, since then I am suffering from severe tongue numbness and burning sensation. It is a week it is getting worse and nobody believes me. I have difficulty speaking for over a week now...I don't know why I'm getting worse. So please if there is any kind of surgery that can help us heal faster let us know.

  5. Hi.
    I had my wisdom teeth removed at least 10 years ago at the OHCWA in Perth. I still have constant numbness, painful tingling on the left hand side of my tongue. When I brush my teeth every time I touch where my lower left tooth was I get what feels like a 9v battery to the tip of my tongue. I constantly chew on it to the point it is now a habit to try and prevent biting it. I only know I've bitten my tongue as I bite so hard that I taste blood and usually resulting in scars left on my tongue. I was never advised of possible permanent numbness. Apparently my root had a hook shape ant it severed/damaged the nerve. For at least a year after the dentist did free follow ups, to me that means he is admitting fault, however the feeling has never returned. I chew on my tongue, which is now a habit, so much that it's red raw and very painful. I started off chewing on it so I knew were it was to stop the constant accidental biting of it. Besides the fact my tongue looks disgusting from all the scars and bite holes it actually really hurts almost constantly. Wish I knew if something can be done so long after the procedure to help.
    Just a word of warning to all. Don't do it. The risk outweigh the benefits. I now have to live like this for the rest of my life.