A common injury that people suffer when having their wisdom teeth removed or any tooth removed is a lingual nerve injury. Sometimes when a dentist is trying to remove a wisdom tooth, the tooth can become impacted and it is difficult to pry the tooth free. In the process of extracting the tooth, the lingual nerve can either be severed or damaged. Sometimes the lingual nerve is severed or damaged with a dental instrument or it can be severed or damaged by the needle that is injecting anesthesia.
Lingual nerve injuries are painful and can sometimes be permanent. They can result in the loss of taste or sensation, drooling, difficulty of talking, and slurring of words. They normally require people to be on very powerful medication, some of which are pain pills that make people drowsy.
The lingual nerve runs along the base of the mouth like a tree branch. The nerve provides sensory stimulation, which is what allows you to have taste and sensation in your tongue. The nerve is quite long and spans almost two-thirds of the tongue and carries your taste bud cells, which is why you may not able to taste food or drinks the way you did before if your nerve is damaged or severed.
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Fortunately, most people whose lingual nerve is struck during a dental procedure, either by a needle or an instrument, do eventually regain taste as the nerve heals. However, there are cases where the nerve is so badly damaged, the normal taste and sensation does not return, and there are also cases where the nerve is cut in half. While there are surgical procedures that can be done, it is often very hard to repair the nerve completely.