Lingual Nerve Damage

Continuing from my last post regarding dental work …

I was having to wear a mouth guard to separate my bottom teeth from the top as that was the only way I could stop the pain, grittiness and the burning sensation that I had in my mouth. It was so unbearable at times. I got to the point where I was wearing the night guard overnight and then about 8 hours during the day.

I went back to the original dentist who did the crown and root canal/composite filling work and he took x-rays again but nothing looked wrong. He then referred me to another specialist at the University of Minnesota.

Unfortunately, as a new patient, I could not get an appointment for a full month with this specialist. About a week before my appointment, I received a call from the office confirming what I needed to bring. The woman said to me “you’re coming in for dry mouth, right?” I said “no, I’m coming in because something’s wrong with my root canal.”

The woman then proceeded to tell me that this specialist did not work with root canals. I explained that I had been waiting almost a month now for this appointment and that the lady who I originally spoke to told me that he would see me.

When I finally got in to see this specialist (who my dentist told me was the cream of the crop in finding out what’s wrong with you) he said “well, the nurse told me what was wrong and we can only help with the symptoms.” He looked inside my mouth to make sure my salivary gland was functioning. Then he referred me to a root canal specialist who he told me had worked on his wife’s root canal. “So he’s highly recommended,” he said.

Needless to say, I was disappointed. I trusted my dentist to send me to the right doctor and come to find out he wasn’t much help. He did give me a prescription for one of his own “concoctions” that included lidocaine. When I went to the pharmacy, they had to make it so I left and had my husband picked it up later for me. Little did I realize that for one bottle it was $70 – 2 weeks worth of swishes. The medication basically numbed my mouth so I couldn’t feel the burning sensation. The same effect, I found out, can be had by using Biotene which doesn’t leave the same numbness in your mouth and is a LOT cheaper.

I made the appointment for the next specialist. An endodontist. These are root canal specialists and this is who I should have been referred to in the first place.

During my first appointment, I told him what was wrong and when he repeated it back, he repeated it backwards to me. What??!!! No! I wanted to scream. “I’m sorry,” I told him. “That’s not what I said.”

The endodontist took x-rays and found nothing wrong with the root canal. He told me there was the possibility that my lingal nerve had been damaged. This happens when the dentist gives you a shot to numb your nerve so he can work on your teeth and accidentally injures the lingal nerve. In March, I had had 3 of these shots. The endodontist explained that this can take care of itself and sent me home with instructions to come back in a month. (Google searches show the damage to the nerve can take up to 2 years to heal itself and sometimes it never does …)

One month later (I always follow their instructions), I was back in the endodontist office. Everything was the same — same pain, same burning, same grittiness in my mouth. After reviewing what we had discussed the last time, the endodontist told me that he wanted me to get a new night guard as the one I had no longer fit my mouth.

I was confused by this instruction but he seemed to be in a hurry so I took the referral to his recommended dentist and left. Bad mistake.

I mulled over what was happening. I stopped and thought about my situation. The wearing of the night guard helps with the pain, grittiness and the burning sensation. It seems to put my mouth in a place where those things don’t bother me. But, since it’s helping, I didn’t think there was anything wrong with the night guard.

I called the new dentist office and made the appointment. Then I called back and spoke to the billing office to see what the cost of a night guard would be since I had to pay out of pocket (insurance companies don’t normally cover night guards). $1100. What?!!!! I hung up. I couldn’t believe they were so expensive. I was dumbfounded. Did I really need this?

I decided to call a different dentist office (one I had never been to) and inquire what they would charge. $189. What?!!! I asked the woman to repeat herself. Yes, $189. She told me I could get a discount if I paid cash.

Now I’m really confused. I called the office the endodontist referred me to and spoke to a different woman. I got the same response. $1100. She told me I could get a discount too but I questioned as to why their night guards are so much more. “Better material, better quality, will last you awhile,” … blah, blah, blah. I then asked her what would happen if I had more work done in my mouth — would the night guard have to be re-done or could it be adjusted? She said “it depends.”

Okay. By now it had been 6 weeks since I had seen my endodontist. He had asked me to come back in 3 months. I called his office to see if I could speak with him and, as expected, he was not available. I explained to the woman my dilemma and her response was “No, you shouldn’t have to pay that much for a mouth guard.” I received a call back from the endodontist and he told me that he wanted to see me again to review the records. I made an appointment and decided to do a little research on the internet. (Doctors hate when you do that …)

This is what I knew:

  • The burning sensation was probably caused by the numbing shot(s) the dentist gave me when he worked on my mouth.
  • The grittiness/leaky feeling, according to an article I read on the internet, might be caused by the filling that was put on the root canal. If the dentist “doesn’t properly prepare the tooth with an etching solution for a specific amount of time, or if they do, but some of your saliva gets onto the tooth after it is etched, the filling may not attach to the tooth tightly and could end up leaking and ultimately needing to be replaced after only a year or two.”
Back at the endodontist office, he took x-rays again and confirmed the above — it is possible for the filling not to have been done properly. In addition, the x-rays show the porcelain crown that is next to the root canal that was done is not fitting properly (which could also cause the leaking sensation). The endodontist said I should go back to my dentist and say:
  • I need you to look at the porcelain crown as the x-rays are showing that it’s not fitted correctly and that could cause the leaking feeling as food/saliva can get into that small area. (The endodontist said it should probably be corrected or I should have a new porcelain crown made.)
  • I need a crown, instead of a composite filling, put on the tooth that you did the root canal on. There is the possibility that the filling was not done properly and a crown is the preferred method.
When I asked the endodontist why I would go back to the original dentist when I’ve had problems with the work he’s done, he told me he would give me a referral to a “crown” specialist. He will send a letter to my original dentist, the “crown” specialist referral dentist and a copy to me. Then I can decide what I want to do.
I’m waiting for that letter to arrive before making my appointment. IF I go back to the original dentist then he will probably re-do the crown for free and possibly, just possibly, give me a big discount on the new crown that should go in.
My concern is — will it be done right this time? He is retiring the end of December and his business is being turned over to a new dentist he recently hired.
Decisions … decisions … salivary gland blockage, lingual nerve damage … I hate going to dentists!



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