A trip to the dentist can be anxiety-inducing for many people. However, most are unaware of the potential risks associated with dental anesthesia, such as facial paralysis. In this article, we explore the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for facial nerve palsy resulting from dental procedures.
Complications of Oral Anesthesia: Facial Nerve Palsy
Facial nerve palsy, a condition characterized by paralysis on one or both sides of the face, can occur as a result of dental anesthesia. The symptoms may manifest immediately or be delayed. When paralysis occurs shortly after the procedure, it is often due to accidental needle insertion into the nerves or surrounding glands. On the other hand, delayed symptoms can arise from prolonged instrumental mouth opening, which stretches the facial nerves. Recovery time tends to be longer for delayed-onset cases, lasting from days to even months.
Improper monitoring during the dental procedure or over-penetration during injection can also cause facial nerve palsy. Moreover, excessive administration of the anesthetic solution may contribute to this condition.
Signs and Symptoms of Facial Nerve Palsy
Patients with facial paralysis from dental anesthesia may experience weakness and occasional pain on the affected side of the face. The facial expression may appear flat and expressionless. The ability to close the eye, smile, or raise the eyebrow may be compromised, and there may be a slight drooping of the mouth or corner of the mouth. Reduced taste sensation may also occur. While a dentist can detect facial paralysis, it is recommended to consult a neurologist to rule out other possible neurological disorders.
Treatment of Facial Paralysis from Dental Anesthesia and Legal Considerations
In most cases, facial paralysis resulting from dental anesthesia requires only time to heal. Medications such as Prednisolone or antiviral drugs may be prescribed. However, special attention should be given to protecting the eye if it cannot close properly, as ophthalmic damage is a risk.
The majority of patients experience full recovery, although some may have a slow recovery or residual symptoms. In cases where the condition persists, seeking legal advice from an attorney is recommended. To determine whether a medical malpractice claim is justified, the severity and duration of the injury must be assessed. If the injury heals within a short period, legal action may not be necessary. However, if the recovery is prolonged or if permanent disfigurement occurs, pursuing a claim might be warranted.
To file a successful claim, it is crucial to prove that the dentist’s negligence caused the injury. This may require gathering medical records and documentation, and possibly obtaining expert medical testimony. The damages suffered will also need to be determined, including medical expenses, lost wages, emotional distress, and reduced quality of life.
Medical malpractice cases are complex, and there are specific deadlines for filing claims. Therefore, it is essential to consult with an attorney promptly. For more information on legal options related to dental injuries, fill out Gacovino, Lake & Associates’ contact form today.