Earlier this month, I had two impacted wisdom teeth removed, and I wonder if something about the procedure gave me TMJ. It’s been three weeks since my oral surgery, and the right side of my face, where the teeth were extracted, is still numb. It hurts when I try to open my mouth wide, and I have numbness on the side of my tongue. I called the oral surgeon’s office, and the receptionist quickly responded and said it takes time for the nerves to heal. I am still uncomfortable with the receptionist’s answer because she didn’t offer to ask the oral surgeon to return my call. She answered me too quickly. Before I call the office again, is the receptionist correct? Should I be concerned? Are any of my symptoms related to TMJ? Thank you. Joan from Colorado
Thank you for your question.
Your lingual (tongue) nerve is near wisdom teeth; sometimes, it travels on top of wisdom teeth. It might be difficult or impossible for the most careful dentists or oral surgeons to avoid touching or damaging the nerve during impacted wisdom teeth extraction. The symptoms you describe are related to the nerves near wisdom teeth, not temporomandibular joint (TMJ) concerns.
After Impacted Wisdom Tooth Extraction, When Will the Nerve Heal?
When and if the nerve will heal after wisdom teeth removal depends on several factors:
- Extent of damage – A bruised or stretched nerve could take a month or two to heal. A cut nerve is unlikely to mend, but some growth may occur over time. Expect a year or more of recovery time for a crushed nerve.
- Sensation in your tongue – If your tongue feels numb and tingly, it may be that the nerve is repairing itself.
- Inability to open your mouth – Swelling during the healing process can prevent you from opening your mouth. If the swelling does not improve or gets worse, you might have an infection in your muscle tissue, limiting how wide you can open your mouth. Your oral surgeon may prescribe antibiotics.
- Microsurgery – Although nerve repair surgery is complicated, at times, it is possible. You can ask your oral surgeon if it is an option.
Although you spoke with a receptionist, call the office again and ask to talk with the oral surgeon, leave a message for him to return your call, or schedule a follow-up appointment. The surgeon will have more insight into your treatment options.
Metairie, Louisiana dentist Dr. Duane Delaune sponsors this post.