Nerve Irritation After Receiving A Dental Implant: How The Problem Is Corrected

Postoperative complications aren't a significant concern with dental implants. However, any surgical procedure (no matter how routine or minor) isn't entirely without risk. With dental implants, your dentist or oral surgeon will advise you of the warning signs of any complications, which are largely related to postoperative infections. The warning signs of other problems can be somewhat difficult to spot, as they can be masked by your body's immune response to the installation of the dental implant. One such potential problem you need to be aware of is the irritation to your inferior alveolar nerve.

Your Lower Jaw

Irritation to the nerve in question is possible when an implant has been placed in your mandibular (lower) jaw. Your body's immediate reaction to the placement of the implant is fairly standard. There will be some bleeding and discomfort (the latter of which will be efficiently managed with pain medication). There will also be some swelling, which will peak shortly after implant placement, before immediately beginning to subside. By this point, any bleeding will have stopped, and your discomfort should also begin to noticeably subside.

Lingering Discomfort and Numbness

As mentioned, your immune system's response to implant placement can mask symptoms of certain complications. It can be difficult to isolate suspicious discomfort from a natural response to the procedure your body has just undergone. The general rule of thumb is that discomfort should subside. Should your discomfort linger, and if it's centered around a lower jaw implant and is being felt as numbness in the chin and lower lips, then you may be experiencing an injury to your inferior alveolar nerve. The nerve has been irritated by the placement of the implant.

Early Treatment is Essential

It may be tempting to do some watching and waiting—simply taking a wait-and-see approach. This is unwise with any potential postoperative dental implant concerns and is especially true with suspected damage to your inferior alveolar nerve. The longer you wait, the more complicated the problem (and its solution) becomes. Prolonged irritation of the inferior alveolar nerve may require surgery, which is why it's so important to report the issue to your dentist as early as possible, when other options are available.

Treatment Options for Nerve Irritation

These other options can require the removal of the implant. You will then receive medication, which is likely to be prednisone or another glucocorticoid medication. This helps to reduce inflammation of the nerve, returning it to its natural state. Once this has been accomplished, implant replacement becomes possible. Your dentist will also explore the possibility of installing a miniature implant, which requires less bone mass and doesn't need to be placed so deeply in the bone. Miniature implants are only recommended for incisor teeth and canine teeth. An implant to replace a molar or premolar will need to be reinstalled very strategically to avoid a recurrence of your nerve irritation.

Irritation of the inferior alveolar nerve after receiving a dental implant is certainly an annoyance, but it's a treatable condition, with treatment being far more straightforward if applied as early as possible.

For more information about dental implants, contact a dentist.