When you go to the dentist for minor dental work, you expect to feel a little numb or tingly after the procedure. If that numbness or tingling continues, however, you may have sustained an injury to the lingual nerve – the nerve that allows your tongue to taste and feel sensation.
The most common cause of lingual nerve damage is negligent dental practices performed during the extraction of lower wisdom teeth. This is because the lingual nerves are located in the lower portion of the jaw. The risk for injury is higher when your wisdom teeth are impacted, because the dental surgeon may need to cut or drill into the bone to fully extract the tooth. Additional injuries can be caused by negligent orthodontic treatment, over-contouring dental crowns, infections from undiagnosed gum disease or decay, and misapplication of anesthesia or antibiotics.
Common side effects of a lingual nerve injury include:
- Discomfort and/or pain in the lower portion of the mouth, gums, or tongue
- Loss of sensation/numbness in the tongue
- Loss of taste
- Tingling in the tongue
- Impairments to speech
Because there are two lingual nerves – one on each side – you can experience all of these symptoms on only one-half of your mouth or tongue. Depending on the severity of the injury, the effects could be permanent.
How are lingual nerve injuries different from inferior alveolar nerve (IAN) injuries?
The inferior alveolar nerve affects your teeth, gums, and lips, and injuries are often the result of mistakes made during tooth implantation or root canals. IAN injuries can cause the same types of symptoms, but they occur in different parts of the mouth.
Filing a claim for dental malpractice
Like all medical professionals, dentists, periodontists, dental hygienists, and oral surgeons owe you a duty of care. You may have a claim for malpractice if you sustain serious or permanent injury to the lingual nerve(s) because of:
- Failure to diagnose and/or treat a condition
- Failure to obtain consent for treatment
- Failure to inform the patient of the potential risks
- Unnecessary extractions
- Extraction of the wrong tooth
- Prescription and/or medication errors
- Resultant infections caused by unsterile or unsuitable tools
- Negligent use of dental tools and/or medications, including anesthesia
Note: Before undergoing any dental procedure, you may be asked to sign a waiver in the event of a mistake by your dentist or surgeon. However, just because you signed a liability waiver does not mean you do not have a claim for dental malpractice.
Making a claim for damages for permanent lingual nerve injury
Like in any medical malpractice claim, you can seek economic damages and non-economic damages.
- Economic damages include the costs associated with your medical treatment, your lost wages, and any other monetary losses you sustain.
- Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and mental trauma.
In dental malpractice claims involving lingual nerve damage, the extent of the damage could affect the amount of damages you can collect. For example, if your injury leaves you with an impairment that affects your ability to do your job – how can a chef be a chef if he cannot taste his food? How can a customer service representative help a customer if she is unable to speak? – you may be entitled to additional compensation for your future lost wages.
If you have sustained permanent injury to your lingual nerve(s) because of an act of negligence, we are here to help. The Mississippi dental malpractice attorneys of Merkel & Cocke, P.A. will fight for you. Please call 662-627-9641 or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation. The firm maintains offices in Jackson, Clarksdale, and Oxford, and serve clients throughout the state.
Since 1982, Merkel & Cocke, P.A. has offered thorough, aggressive legal representation on behalf of clients throughout Mississippi. As one of the largest plaintiffs’ personal injury law firms in the state, we consider it our duty and our honor to serve the people of our communities, and to uphold their rights in court. Our reputation is such that other law firms turn to us when they need legal counsel, and our business has grown through the years because of the referrals of these attorneys, who trust us with their needs and the needs of their clients. We are the firm you can trust when there are challenges ahead. To schedule a free consultation, please complete our contact form.