Increasing but not particularly disturbing numbness after a wisdom tooth extraction
August 25, 2008 8:37 PM   Subscribe

About 84 hours ago I had four wisdom teeth extracted. The bottom left, though, has been the most painful and swollen post-op. I've also noticed a strip along the left underside of my tongue was numb and, more significantly, that strip has since spread around the tip of my tongue. Should I be worried/what should I ask my doctor (whom you are not)?

I had lidocaine and a few minutes of the nitrous (got uneasy with the systemic effects and asked that it be stopped). The top and even the bottom right went fine, even though the surgeon said it would be the hardest and had to crack it in half. My temperature is 99.7 F (about a degree and a half elevated for me).

I'm on 300mg clindamycin every 4-6 hours for seven days. I took 7.5mg hydrocodone twice the day of the surgery and have since been on 600mg ibuprofen with food every 4-6 hours for inflammation and pain. I have been rinsing with salt water a few times a day, with no blood or (additional) pain.

I'm very young and the surgeon said pre-op that my roots were short so nerve damage was basically impossible. I also realize that someone just hacked bits out of my jawbone with things that wouldn't look obviously out of place in a carpenter's hands, and considering I only took 2 of the 20 hydrocodone tablets prescribed, my pain is probably minimal.

My current plan is just wait and see what the surgeon says when I follow up seven days post-op. If you know of something so serious I really need to think about it right now, please tell me. Also mention if there is anything (possible complications, bad signs, useful tests) I should know about going in for follow-up.
posted by d. z. wang to Health & Fitness (10 answers total)
dont worry. ask your doctor
posted by Gregamell at 8:50 PM on August 25, 2008

After having my wisdom teeth out, my lower lip and chin had a residual mild numb feeling for approximately 2 months. It was freaky, but it went away, which is great because when I saw my doctor he couldn't tell me whether or not it would be permanent, that we would have to "wait and see". It went away though. It's my understanding that its somewhat rare for the numbness to last past a day.
posted by heavenstobetsy at 8:53 PM on August 25, 2008

The right side of my chin is still numb almost five weeks after getting my wisdom teeth out. The doc told me it shouldn't be permanent - something about my being able to feel the direction of a soft touch. But yeah, it's freaky, but there ain't nothing you can do except wait it out.
posted by kjs4 at 10:31 PM on August 25, 2008

Mine lasted almost 2 weeks. What happened was that your inferior alveolar nerve branch was jostled during the extraction. This trauma can result in permanent numbness but usually sensation returns within a month or so.

This happened to me I flipped out hard, did lots of research, then had them explain everything to me in excruciating detail. There is not much they can say or do for you. It either comes back or it does not.

Fortunately, it normally comes back (very rare that it does not).
posted by milqman at 10:56 PM on August 25, 2008

My chin and lower lip tingly-numbness post-wisdom teeth extraction has lasted 2 years and counting. It kinda sucks, but it doesn't significantly detract from my quality of life.
posted by Sparx at 4:39 AM on August 26, 2008

I had my wisdom teeth out 20 years ago and still have numbness on my lower left gum and in a strip along the left side of my tongue. Mostly I don't notice it. I believe (although IANAD) there's fuckall you can do about it now anyway--either the feeling comes back or it doesn't. Just sit back and hope for the best.
posted by HotToddy at 6:39 AM on August 26, 2008

My husband had a root canal last december, and had numbness along his lip and jawline for maybe a month afterward. His dentist advised him that the numbness would almost certainly go away, and it has completely resolved now, but was freaky at the time.
posted by MsElaineous at 6:45 AM on August 26, 2008

Just adding another datapoint: My whole chin and a lot of my left-hand gums & tongue were numb for about a week, and then everything went back to normal. Good luck!
posted by allen8219 at 6:53 AM on August 26, 2008

I'm going to have a surgery soon that involves cutting the jaw along the entire (or close to it) nerve bundle milqman mentioned. In that case, numbness is guaranteed, and 'permanence' is defined as lasting over a year (because that's all that can be reasonably assessed by the surgeon).

Even in that case, with maximum possibility for the nerve going haywire/getting 'bruised'/etc, permanent numbness only happens less than 5% of the time, at least in my surgeon's practice. Your only got jostled; it'll probably be fine, despite Sparx's very bad luck (sorry, Sparx, that sucks!).

Also: when in doubt, YES talk to your doctor! In fact, I'd suggest phoning him even after getting these answers, if only for peace of mind.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 7:46 AM on August 26, 2008

This sounds like early stages of Bell's Palsy. It's usually caused by compression or damage to the major nerve that runs down the jaw, and it can be a complication of oral surgery.

Go talk to a doctor. In most cases, it will go away on its own. But, there are cases where it can be permanent, and you want to know if the doctor or your dentist need to intervene to prevent it from being permanent. It may be that swelling needs to be tamped down by anti-inflammatories, or you may need additional surgery to relieve the compression.

The absolute worst case scenario is that the nerve is partially or wholly severed, which would probably mean that you're SOL, although that is extremely unlikely.

Good luck, and I hope it goes away soon. Mine sure was annoying.
posted by Citrus at 11:11 AM on August 27, 2008

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