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do nerves show up on x-rays?

A

anx_guy

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Apr 10, 2009
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I am getting an impacted lower wisdom tooth extracted. I am worried about nerve damage. My question is: Can my surgeon confidently tell by looking at an x-ray whether or not nerve damage is likely? Do nerves even show up on x-rays?
 
DrMike

DrMike

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The surgeon will assess the position of the wisdom tooth in relation to the main nerve of the lower jaw. The main nerve they will be looking for is called the Inferior alveolar nerve and although you can't see the actual nerve itself you can see the outline of the canal which it is inside.
Nerve damage during the tooth removal is really uncommon however oral surgeons/dentists will use the xray to help them judge what kind of risk is involved in a particular case. Regardless of what they see, they are obligued to tell you that there is a possibility that nerve damage could happpen, possibly causing a short term, or possibly long term altered sensation.
In a case whereby there is great concern for nerve damage (the root of the tooth is very close or around the nerve canal)- I think that they would lay this on the line for you and tell you that they were very concerned and show you on your xray what they are talking about. Otherwise they have probably given you the standard warnings that every patient requiring wisdom tooth removal would be given.
I hope this helps explain it from the other side of the chair!
Regards
Dr Mike
 
A

anx_guy

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Apr 10, 2009
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Thanks for the reply. That is exactly what the surgeon did.
It looks like I'm in a bad situation, because I was told that the root of my wisdom tooth is sitting on that nerve. Since the surgery is going to be a little more complicated, the surgeon recommends IV sedation, and estimates a 5% chance of nerve damage.

If the root is already touching the nerve, how can the nerve not be damaged during surgery? I'm debating whether to go through with this or not.
 
DrMike

DrMike

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xrays quite often show the tip of the root to be sitting very near the nerve- this is quite common. it is more of a concern if the root curves around the nerve. If the surgeon is saying that the chance is 5%- if it were me- I'd go for it and get it done. My main reason would be that it woukd be best to get it over with before there is more pain or problems which may occur by leaving it. It is your call of course, but if he is telling you 5%, it sounds to me like he is quite confident (95%!) that everything will be fine.
Regards
Dr Mike
 
A

anx_guy

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Thank you DrMike for your input and encouragement! I have also heard that in some cases the lingual nerve can be damaged. I might be able to handle some numbness in my face, but if I no longer have feeling in my tongue.. I would be devastated. Exactly how close is the lingual nerve to the teeth?
 
DrMike

DrMike

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it is really rare to have problems with the lingual nerve as the surgeon is often able to see it and stay away from it.
dr mike
 
T

tabatha7

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Oct 3, 2010
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Kind of an older thread but it was encouraging as I'm concerned about nerve damage as well. Thank you for the answers here, Dr. Mike.
 
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