What is nerve repositioning?
The nerve that runs along the lower jaw is called the inferior alveolar nerve. It provides feeling to the chin and lower lip areas. When bone deterioration occurs, the separation of this nerve from the teeth and upper surface of the gums decreases. In some cases of severe bone resorption, this nerve may even lay on top of the bone, right beneath the gum tissue. This nerve plays an important role in the overall sensation of the front of the mouth, and it is extremely important to treat this nerve with caution. Any oral surgical procedure, like dental implant placement or the removal of wisdom teeth, requires specific consideration of this specialized nerve.
If a necessary oral surgical procedure threatens to damage this nerve, it may be best to perform nerve repositioning. The movement of this delicate nerve is considered to be a very aggressive technique, so this can result in some post-operative numbness of the lower lip or jaw region. It is a priority that we pursue every feasible treatment alternative prior to considering this procedure.
What can I expect during the nerve repositioning procedure?
The most common method to accomplish nerve repositioning begins with the removal of the bone that is covering the nerve. We will carefully secure the nerve and move it aside so that the implants can be placed. Once placement is complete, the nerve is carefully released back into its natural position and the removed bone is replaced with a bone graft. Sutures are used to close the surgical site and allow for healing.
Prior to your procedure, you will have a thorough oral consultation and 3D x-ray examination to review the composition of your jaws, teeth, and nerves. All of your options for treatment and sedation will be explored to develop a surgical plan with which you will feel comfortable. Most patients have this procedure using IV sedation or general anesthesia. Based on your condition, the procedure may need to be performed in two surgical visits. You will also learn about your bone grafting options, including bone from your own body (usually taken from the third molar region of the mouth, the knee, or the hip) or synthetic bone. Because of the importance of this nerve, all other options will typically be reviewed and considered before nerve repositioning is chosen as the best treatment option.
Our goal is to provide you with the best treatment and ensure the most successful surgical result. If you are in need of a bone grafting procedure or nerve repositioning for dental implants, please call us at Permian Basin Oral Surgery & Dental Implant Center to discuss your options with one of our expert oral surgeons.