Most patients can receive dental implant treatments without needing any additional procedures, but this isn’t true in every case. In some procedures, your oral surgeon might have to reposition the nerve in your lower jaw if you don’t have sufficient bone mass to receive the implants safely.
The inferior alveolar nerve stems from the mandibular nerve and is located in the lower jaw. It gives feeling to the lower lip and chin and may need to be moved to make room for placement of dental implants in the lower jaw. This procedure is only done on the lower jaw and usually happens when teeth are missing around the area of the back molars.
Since nerve repositioning is fairly aggressive, we will consider other options first. Nerve repositioning can result in facial pain and numbness, and some recovery time is usually necessary.
We usually remove an outer section of the cheek side of the lower jawbone and expose the nerve and vessel canal. This is often done by drilling a small hole in the bone. The nerve and vessel bundle is isolated, and very carefully pulled to the side and out of the way. Once it’s safely put aside, the dental implants can be inserted into the jawbone, while keeping a close on the position of the nerve bundle. After the implants are inserted, the nerve bundle is released and placed back over the implants. The access point can be refilled with bone graft material.
Nerve repositioning is a procedure that’s designed to reduce the risk of complications during dental implant surgery, but it’s not without its own risks. Touching and moving the nerve itself can inflict damage, and nerve repositioning frequently results in the numbness of the jaw and lower lip. In many cases, this numbness will go away, but can sometimes be permanent.
The bone graft procedure may be performed at the same time, depending on the patient’s condition. We can take bone graft material from several suitable sites on the body, including from inside the mouth, the chin, the upper jaw, and even from the hip or tibia in more extensive situations.
The surgeries are performed in the out-office surgical suite under IV sedation or general anesthesia. After we discharge you, we recommend bed rest for at least one day, and limited physical activity for one week to make sure that you recover quickly.
If you have questions about your dental implant procedure, our staff can help you understand the necessary preparations and the risks of the procedure. We’ll be glad to walk you through the potential complications that can come with the surgery, including nerve repositioning and how the bone graft would be conducted.
For more information, or to schedule an appoint, please contact us online or call us.