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Dental and Oral Health (Adults)

Tongue Numbness



Had a root canal done 3 weeks ago, while getting a numbing shot, endodontist hit the nerve and about sent me flying out of the chair. It felt like my toungue was dipped in acid. Half my toungue is still numb for movement, feels burnt, effects taste, sensitivity, talking, etc. Toungue is sore due to biting it several times a day without knowing it. I have read that it is probably some nerve damaged during the shot, but how long will this last? Is there anything that can be done to help? Endo just says it should go away over time. I have to go back to finish the treatment, but am scared to. When Endo hit my nerve, she laughed and said she was 3 for 3 that day. That worries me! Worries me that I don`t know if I want to go back to her and pay more money for something that I feel worse now than when I went the first time. Sorry for venting, but am concerned this won`t go away.


Your endodontist is right that the vast majority of these situations do completely resolve. Some do not however. This is less than 1%.


If you are experiencing burning and this is disconcerting, there are medications (anti-epileptic drugs, e.g., Neurontin-gabapentin and others) that have minimal adverse effects and can be helpful. Some recommend a brief course of corticosteroids to reduce nerve inflammation.


 You should start to see resolution anywhere from days to weeks. It may take as long as a few months for complete recovery. If after one month there is no or minimal improvement, you may want to talk to your dentist again. The injection for the lower jaw teeth is one that is made into a general area. The fact that the needle contacted the nerve means that your dentist was in exactly the right place and this happens to all dentists from time to time.

Usually, after the first endodontic appt, local anesthesia is not needed or alternative types can be given other than into the region that caused this problem. I think it would be wise to discuss alternate techniques until your nerve injury subsides. Good luck!

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Response by:

Steven I Ganzberg, SB, DMD, MS Steven I Ganzberg, SB, DMD, MS
Formerly, Clinical Professor of Dentistry
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University