The inferior alveolar nerve is critical in providing feeling to the chin and the lower lip. One of the big risks of dental implant placement is that, for some patients, the implants may damage this nerve, contributing to a long-term loss of feeling. For patients who have a particularly high risk, we may recommend nerve repositioning, which means literally moving the nerve to create room for dental implants.
This procedure is an aggressive approach that may cause some tingling or loss of feeling. This post-op discomfort is common following the placement of dental implants and usually proves to be short-term. Our surgeons will consider less aggressive options first, such as blade implant placement.
The process typically involves the surgical removal of an outer section of the cheek which exposes the nerve and vessel canal on the side of the lower jaw bone. The nerve and vessel are then bundled and moved slightly to one side. Implants can then be placed, and then the nerve and vessel bundle are placed back over the implants. Bone grafting materials may be used to fill in the surgical access point, and then the incision site is closed. Depending on the patient’s need, your surgeon may recommend using bone material from a cadaver or bone harvested from elsewhere on the patient’s body.
These procedures are typically performed in-office under general anesthesia or IV sedation administered by one of our board-certified oral surgeons. After surgery, we recommended resting in bed for a day or so, then limiting physical exertion for about a week.
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