For patients who have lost a tooth, dental implants are a safe and reliable way to get a permanent restoration for that missing tooth. While many of our patients are good candidates for this procedure, some, unfortunately, may need surgical intervention to help them sustain the implants.
One of the more common reasons that a patient may not be a good candidate for a dental implant is due to severe bone loss in the jaw, making it difficult to successfully place the implant. While a bone graft is often a good option for these patients, we here at Pacific Oral & Facial Surgery Center may occasionally need to perform a specific type of delicate surgery called nerve repositioning to allow for the dental implant.
What Happens During a Nerve Repositioning?
Your mouth has a network of nerves, each serving a different area of your mouth. The nerves on your lower back jaw, called your inferior alveolar nerve, is the one that controls sensation in your bottom lip and your chin. Working around these nerves must be handled with the ultimate in caution, as damage to them can lead to permanent numbness in the lip and chin.
Please know that numbness after this procedure is normal, however, and is to be expected. This numbness should subside after several weeks. If the numbness is permanent, do not become discouraged; you will still be able to talk, eat, and use your mouth with complete function.
During a nerve repositioning procedure, we will start by carefully placing an incision into the gums to expose the area of the jaw where the bone loss has occurred. This bundle of nerves will be located in the bone canal of the lower jaw. When we see the nerve bundle, we will very gently set it aside to allow us to work on the area where we will be placing the implant. We will fill the area with bone graft material, a combination of donor tissue (typically from a sterilized cadaver or an animal, though it does sometimes come from another area on the patient) that will help reinforce the site.
This will make it possible for us to place the implant, allowing us to get a more secure fit for it. Once we place the titanium implant into the lower jawbone, we will then return the nerve bundle to the area, placing it over the implant. Finally, we will suture the area closed to help encourage healing of the site.
Nerve repositioning is typically done in-office. It is performed under sedation. Local sedation will be used to ensure the patient does not experience any discomfort during the procedure, and intravenous (IV) sedation will be used in conjunction with it so that the patient is calm throughout it. Some cases of nerve repositioning, though, may require heavier sedation. We will make this decision on a case-by-case basis.
Call Us if You Need Nerve Repositioning
A nerve reposition procedure is often not our first choice of treatment for a patient who is interested in a dental implant, as it is not without risks. However, if you were to require this procedure, you can be confident that when you are in our care, we here at Pacific Oral & Facial Surgery Center will make sure you get the highest quality of treatment with unmatched skill and expertise. To learn more about this procedure, or to set up an appointment with us, please give us a call at 925-290-7727 today!