I already hated going to the dentist...
March 16, 2009 12:34 PM   Subscribe

Tell me about your experiences with dental paresthesia, please...

I saw my dentist last Wednesday for a routine filling, which was located near the back on the lower right side of my mouth. It took two shots of anesthetic to get me sufficiently numb, and when they did the second shot, something felt...strange. Off. It felt like a sharp twinge, combined with a sort of "pop" sensation. At the time I paid it no mind, and the rest of the procedure was uneventful. That is, until the sensation never returned to the right side of my tongue. It's most annoying--heat and cold don't really register, things taste off, I'm having trouble articulating when I talk, etc.

At any rate, I called my dentist the next morning, and he assured me that this does occasionally happen--but that it takes time (days to weeks or sometimes longer) for things to get back to normal. He gave me a 6-day prescription for 4mg of methylprednisolone (Medrol), which I've been taking dutifully. And things do seem to be improving, if very slowly. At the very least I can now register when I'm accidentally biting my tongue while eating...

As for my question(s), dear MeFites...has this ever happened to you? How long did it take for it to go away completely? Did it go away completely? Anything else I could or should be doing to help speed up the healing (nutritional supplements, call my acupuncturist, whatever)? This is a new one on me and most everyone I've talked to, so your advice is appreciated!
posted by Vervain to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm probably way out of bounds but my husband recently had a stroke and his only symptom (at first) was *exactly* what you are describing with your tongue. He is 37. No advice what to do other than be sure your symptoms are from the dental procedure. Again, apologies if I am being an alarmist, I just wanted to be sure that you are aware.
posted by pearlybob at 1:08 PM on March 16, 2009

This happened to me a few years ago. I felt the sharp twinge when I was given the Novocaine shot, almost like the tip of my tongue was stabbed. The tip of my tongue stayed numb when the Novocaine wore off, and I worried it would stay that way forever. It s-l-o-w-l-y improved over the next several months. I didn't do anything to help it improve, and the dentist didn't suggest anything when I called to ask about it. It eventually returned to normal, and has stayed that way ever since.
posted by daisyace at 2:20 PM on March 16, 2009

After wisdom teeth removal I had no feeling in half of my lower jaw and tongue. It took about 4 months before the numbness stopped occupying my every thought. It was very upsetting! At about 6 months I very slowly started to get feeling back. At about one year I have 95% feeling back but I never think about it anymore anyway. I guess it wouldn't bother me so much if it doesn't come back 100%.

(I also think you should take heed of a stroke warning. Can you schedule a check-up with your regular doctor soon?)

I have not heard about one thing that would help speed things up. Except eating healthy and exercising couldn't hurt.

If I had money to burn I would get a second opinion and an xray to see if something odd was going on.
posted by cda at 3:53 PM on March 16, 2009

I'm a dental student (almost graduated!). When we work on the bottom teeth, the injection is called an inferior alveolar injection. It is just a guess, based on typical anatomy, and you are trying to place the local anesthetic close to the nerve. It typically fails to achieve anesthesia in 10% of cases on the first injection (everyone's anatomy is a little different) , so a dentist will give another in a slightly different place. If the patient feels a "lightning bolt", shock, or jolt like you describe it typically means that the needle directly hit the nerve.

It is estimated that between 1:26,000 and 1:160,000 inferior alveolar injections will result in a sensory disturbance. This means about one patient for every general practitioner during his or her career. (source: my oral surgery notes)

The good news? 85% of patients will recover completely within 8 weeks. 5% will have recovery over a longer period of time. 10% will have permanent injury (resulting in some, but not total improvement). (source: my oral surgery notes)

Unfortunately there is no way to prevent this type of injury. Just bad luck.

Typically, the dentist should bring you back sometime within the next few weeks if you have no imprevement and do brief in-office testing to determine the extent of the nerve injury and get a baseline. After 6 weeks, you should go to an oral surgeon who can do complete neurosensory testing.

Good luck, I'm sure you'll be fine!
posted by amalgamator at 6:58 PM on March 16, 2009

Thanks to all for the responses. I'm happy to report that three months later, things are basically back to normal.
posted by Vervain at 11:49 AM on June 2, 2009

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