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Numbness from Dental Implant

I had multiple dental implants placed in my lower left side three days ago. The whole procedure was a nightmare. The dentist was running behind and it took him almost an hour to get to me. When he came in, he was in an obvious hurry. He normally puts gel on my gums and lets it sit for a while before he tries to numb me, but this time, he just wiped it on and jammed the needle in. It hurt like the dickens. I literally jumped in the chair. Instead of apologizing, or even reassuring me, he goes into a lecture about how I need to be able to sit still if he’s going to do dental implants. Well, I toughed it out, but I was in the chair for hours with him drilling, tugging, and pulling. He really did a number on me.  I feel like I got into a fist fight. I expected there to be some soreness after all that and there certainly is, but I can’t feel my tongue. I thought at first it was just that the anesthetic wasn’t wearing off, but it isn’t going away. Is this the result of the dentist being rough or can dental implants do that? Will I be stuck like this forever? If so, I’m going back and having these things taken out. It’s not worth all this.


Dear Frank,

First, I’ll say I’m sorry for what a distressing appointment you experienced. Though your dentist should have been more compassionate, especially when he caused you pain, try to forgive him.  Maybe what caused him to run so behind was something stressful and that’s how he ended up so disagreeable.

Based on what you’ve described, it sounds to me like you have some nerve damage. This can be an unfortunate side-effect of any dental procedure.

Your lingual nerve is in the area where your dental implants and injection were given. Though the implant could be responsible for it, it sounds more likely that it occurred during your injection. Many people feel what they describe as “lightning” when their nerve is hit.

Everyone’s anatomy is slightly different. So, when you’re being given an injection, the doctor is looking for standard landmarks and surmising where the nerves might be so they are avoided, but because everyone is unique, there’s really no way to be 100% accurate. This couldn’t have been avoided.

The good news is that this type of nerve damage generally isn’t severe. The needles are so small that a very small portion of the nerve is injured. When someone hurts a nerve in a car wreck or other serious accident, they often tear it or sever it entirely. In your case, the nerve is very likely to regenerate, which means it will heal entirely. Most people in your situation heal within three weeks, but there are times when it can last up to 18 months. There are also times when the numbness is permanent.

Please report this to your doctor and go in for an exam. He may recommend that you go on a course of anti-inflammatory medications, that you see a specialist, or just that you follow up with him so he can monitor your progress. With the damage being done, removing the dental implants won’t help, but you’re likely to make a full recovery regardless.

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