What Can Cause Nerve Damage In the Mouth?
The most common cause of nerve damage in the mouth is dental decay, however Dr. Joe Wegiel of Ludlow Family Dentistry, PC explains that a number of other medical issues could cause oral nerve damage as well.
Wegiel says this happens to be a serious problem for adults all over the country, because nerve damage can become irreversible if left untreated. In cases where the nerve damage is caused by dental decay, the damage is already irreversible by the time the decay has hit the nerve.
Of course, Wegiel tells us that having irreversible nerve damage doesn’t mean a person has to live in pain for the rest of his life. If a person were to come in with nerve damage due to excessive decay, then the most likely treatment would be a root canal. A root canal is the best form of treatment for any type of dental nerve damage, no matter what the cause, explains Wegiel.
Other common causes of nerve damage are trauma, long-term bruxism, and chewing on things like ice and pen caps. Wegiel tells us that oral trauma causing nerve damage will often occur when someone gets into an accident in which his mouth gets hit.
Long-term bruxism, meanwhile, essentially means the grinding of one’s teeth. When someone grinds his teeth at night, that means that his teeth are gnawing at each other without any rest or stopping for hours on end. Without the proper type of nighttime protection, such as a custom mouth guard fitted by a dentist, a person with this condition could easily wear down his teeth to the point where nerve damage occurs.
Poor eating habits can contribute to nerve damage in the teeth as well, especially if a person has a habit of chewing hard objects like ice. Wegiel has experience with many patients who suffered nerve damage after using their teeth to open objects like plastic containers, which is why he makes sure to always warn his patients against using their teeth for anything that teeth aren’t naturally designed for.
Ice is another hard object that Wegiel recommends that his patients avoid chewing, since doing so can cause fractures that may show up five or more years after the fact. So while some men and women might be chewing ice and thinking that it’s not hurting their teeth, they will be singing a different tune five years down the line when they realize they have fractures in their teeth and damage to their nerves, according to Wegiel.
If a nerve dies as the result of any of these things, then the most logical solution is for a person to have a root canal. In some cases, if the nerve damage is associated with a fracture of a tooth, then the person may have to lose the tooth. Wegiel explains that if a tooth fracture is extensive enough that the tooth has actually split in half, then that means that the tooth cannot be saved with a root canal and that it will have to be taken out.
Any dentist who performs root canals will want to make sure that the tooth is still intact before beginning the procedure, or else the brittle tooth could actually crack and split open. In that case, Wegiel says the person would end up losing his tooth anyway.
Although nerve damage in the teeth is the most common type of nerve damage for a dentist to come across, Wegiel says that it is not the only type of nerve damage that people can experience in their mouths. Other types of nerve damage can be the result of neurological problems, including facial nerve paralysis.
If a patient were to choose a dentist who was not experienced in performing wisdom tooth removal procedures, for example, then there is a chance that an unqualified dentist could damage the mandibular nerve, which would make a person’s lip numb for the rest of his life. Wegiel says this is quite rare, and that it is simply something that would not likely happen to anyone working with a legitimate, board certified oral surgeon.
For anyone who thinks that he may have nerve damage in his mouth, Wegiel recommends calling a dentist immediately and scheduling an appointment. In Ludlow, Wegiel will consult with patients and get to the bottom of whatever is causing their oral pain.
*Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your healthcare provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with an appropriate healthcare provider.