Could nerve damage happen in my face when a wisdom tooth is removed?

Randall D. Stastny, DMD
Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery

The nerve that controls the sensation to the chin, lower lip and lower teeth runs through the lower jaw and sometimes very close to the lower wisdom teeth. If this nerve is stretched or bruised during removal of the lower wisdom teeth patients may experience some prolonged numbness in the chin, lip or lower teeth on that side of the jaw. The numbness may be partial or complete numbness. Studies have shown that this nerve usually heals within six months; therefore, if there is any sign of improvement of feeling in the area most people have most of their healing at six months. If there is no feeling, or there is no improvement the American Association of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons recommends referral to an oral & maxillofacial surgeon who is skilled in repair of these type of nerve injuries within six months from the time of injury.

Many people can experience numbness or tingling in the face or jaw after their wisdom teeth are removed. Normal sensation usually returns within a few days. In rare cases, nerve damage may result. If you experience numbness or tingling longer than a few days, consult your dentist.
Nerve damage is possible with dental surgeries such as the pulling of a wisdom tooth. However, if you choose a well trained-dentist who has experience with tooth extraction, the risk of a damaged facial nerve is minimal.