Today, one of the best ways to treat tooth loss is with dental implants. Dental implants involve the use of a titanium screw, or post, which is positioned in the jaw bone to provide a stable base on which to place a crown. The crown resembles the natural tooth you lost. The primary issue patients sometimes face is a lack of stable bone to support the implant itself.
While bone grafting can help to correct this problem, there may be an additional problem: the proximity of the inferior alveolar nerve. This nerve runs along the lower jaw and serves to provide sensation to the chin and the lower lip. If the nerve is too close to the implant site, it can prevent the placement of the post due to concerns of damaging the nerve in the process.
In such cases, the implant specialist at Fioritto Family Dental may recommend nerve repositioning to reduce risk and facilitate placement of a dental implant. This procedure is not without potential complications, so it’s important to understand the benefits and potential drawbacks before opting for nerve repositioning.
What is Nerve Repositioning?
In cases where dental implants are needed to replace premolars, first molars, and/or second molars, the proximity of the alveolar nerve can be problematic. If this is the case, our experienced dental surgeon can expose the neuro-vascular bundle in your jaw to isolate the inferior alveolar nerve and reposition it so that a dental implant or implants won’t come into contact with it; potentially causing damage that affects sensation in the chin and lower lip.
While the nerve is out of the way, the implant procedure can be performed, placing one or more posts, before the nerve is replaced and repositioned. A bone graft procedure could also be performed simultaneously. The ability to perform multiple procedures at once may depend on a patient’s state of oral health. The implant procedure and/or bone graft could always be performed at a later date, when optimal oral health conditions are achieved.
Pros and Cons
The primary benefit of nerve repositioning is avoiding contact between a dental implant and the alveolar nerve. Contact could result in pain, inflammation, or damage to the nerve that causes temporary or lasting loss of sensation in the chin or lower lip. Unfortunately, there is also a small risk that simply touching the nerve to reposition it could cause similar injury.
Because of this risk, our implant specialist will present other options to a patient prior to nerve repositioning.
If you’re interested in a dental implant, contact Fioritto Family Dental today at 440-951-5511 or reach out to us online to schedule a consultation and learn more.