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Interventions for iatrogenic inferior alveolar and lingual nerve injury


Coultard, P., et al

Subject Keywords: Interventions, Iatrogenic injury, Inferior alveolar, Lingual nerves
Type: Article
Region: International (other)

The main question addressed by this review is how effective are different treatments and what are the best timings for these treatments following accidental damage during surgery to the nerves that supply sensation to the tongue, lower lip and chin.


The nerves (alveolar and lingual) supplying sensation to the tongue, lower lip and chin, may be injured as a result of surgical treatments to the mouth and face, including surgery to remove lower wisdom teeth. The vast majority (90%) of these injuries are temporary and get better within eight weeks. However if they last for longer than six months they are considered to be permanent. Damage to these nerves can lead to altered sensation in the region of the lower lip and chin, or tongue or both. Furthermore, damage to the nerve supplying the tongue may lead to altered taste perception. These injuries can affect people's quality of life leading to emotional problems, problems with socialising and disabilities. Accidental injury after surgery can also give rise to legal action.

There are many interventions or treatments available, surgical and non-surgical, that may enhance recovery, including improving sensation. They can be grouped as.

1. Surgical – a variety of procedures.
2. Laser treatment – low-level laser treatment has been used to treat partial loss of sensation.
3. Medical – treatment with drugs including antiepileptics, antidepressants and painkillers.
4. Counselling – including cognitive behavioural and relaxation therapy, changing behaviour and hypnosis



Rights: © The Cochrane Collaboration
Suggested citation:

Coultard, P., et al. (2014) Interventions for iatrogenic inferior alveolar and lingual nerve injury [Online]. Available from: [Accessed: 18th August 2018].


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