While it is always preferable to save natural teeth if possible, sometimes the best option available is to extract a tooth and opt for a dental implant at some point in the future. This means that you should educate yourself about some of the preparations that must be done when looking at dental implant surgery. Some of these, like nerve repositioning, can seem like daunting procedures – but at Mid-Hudson Oral and Maxillofacial Practice, PC, we understand how to best approach the procedure in order to effect an excellent outcome.
What is nerve repositioning?
When navigating the dental implant process, it is important to recognize that sometimes the inferior alveolar nerve – the nerve that provides feeling to your chin and lower lip – might need to be moved in order to create adequate room for implant placement. This is a relatively advanced option, however, there are some patients that are simply excellent candidates for the procedure. If you are a candidate and our surgeon believes this surgical option is likely to be a success, then we will reposition this particular nerve so that it sits further away from the implant in question before we actually place the implant.
What is the nerve repositioning process like?
We generally remove a section of the gingiva (gum tissue) on the side of your lower jawbone. This will expose the vessel and nerve canal. Once we successfully isolate the nerve, we very gently pull it out to the side. When we place the dental implants, we will also track the neurovascular bundle in order to ensure that it does not get buried or misplaced. When the implants have been placed, the bundle is then placed back into position and everything is sutured closed. The area where we accessed the nerve will also be filled with of bone graft material prior to closure.
Why would the nerve need to be repositioned?
When teeth are extracted and no socket preservation is done, it is very common for the tissue and bone that used to hold the missing tooth in place to decrease in size. This can leave the nerve a little too close to the surface when undergoing dental implant surgery. That is why our surgeon must sometimes move the inferior alveolar nerve in order to successfully place dental implants without causing chronic pain and/or numbness.