What is hypoesthesia?Oral hypoesthesia refers to a reduced sensitivity or numbness in the oral cavity, including the tongue, lips, cheeks, and gums. This condition can make it difficult for a person to feel pain, temperature, or touch sensations in the mouth. Oral hypoesthesia can occur due to a variety of reasons, such as damage to the inferior alveolar nerve or the lingual nerve during dental procedures and oral surgical procedures.

Hypoesthesia Causes

In dentistry, hypoesthesia can occur as a result of nerve damage or injury during dental procedures. The following are some ways in which a dentist may cause a patient to suffer from hypoesthesia:

Injection of Local Anesthesia

The most common cause of hypoesthesia in dentistry is the injection of local anesthesia to numb the area being treated. In some cases, the needle may accidentally hit a nerve, causing temporary or permanent damage to the nerve and leading to hypoesthesia.

Dental Procedures

Hypoesthesia can also occur during dental procedures such as tooth extractions, root canal treatment, or dental implant placement. Trauma to the surrounding nerves during these procedures can lead to nerve damage and hypoesthesia.

Pressure on the Nerves

Prolonged pressure on nerves during dental procedures can also cause nerve damage and hypoesthesia. For example, keeping the mouth open for an extended period of time during a procedure may compress the nerves in the jaw and cause temporary or permanent nerve damage.


Infection following a dental procedure can also cause nerve damage and hypoesthesia. For example, an abscess or infection at the site of a dental implant can cause inflammation and compression of nerves, leading to hypoesthesia.


In rare cases, compression of nerves in the neck or head due to positioning during a dental procedure can lead to hypoesthesia.

Dentists should take special care to minimize the risk of nerve damage during dental procedures. However, they don’t always do this, and complications may arise as a result. If you experience hypoesthesia after a dental procedure, you should seek medical attention immediately so that appropriate steps can be taken to diagnose and treat the problem. Nerve damage left untreated may become permanent.

Hypoesthesia Symptoms

The symptoms of hypoesthesia after dental work depend on the severity and location of nerve damage. Here are some common symptoms that a patient with hypoesthesia may experience:

Numbness or Tingling

The most common symptom of hypoesthesia is a feeling of numbness or tingling in the affected area. This may be felt in the lips, tongue, cheeks, or gums, and it may be temporary or permanent.

Loss of Sensation

In some cases, hypoesthesia may lead to a complete loss of sensation in the affected area. This can make it difficult to eat, drink, speak, or perform other daily activities.

Weakness or Paralysis

If the nerve damage is severe, it may lead to weakness or paralysis in the affected area. This can make it difficult to move the tongue, lips, or other parts of the mouth.

Pain or Discomfort

Some patients may experience pain or discomfort in the affected area, especially if the hypoesthesia is caused by nerve inflammation or infection. This could signal a severe nerve condition, like anesthesia dolorosa or trigeminal neuralgia.

Changes in Taste

In some cases, hypoesthesia may affect the sense of taste, leading to a loss of taste or changes in the way that food tastes.

If you experience any of these symptoms after dental work, it is important to seek medical treatment right away. As we talked about earlier, early diagnosis and treatment of nerve damage can improve the chances of a full recovery. Your dentist may refer you to a specialist, such as an oral surgeon or a neurologist, for further evaluation and treatment.

Treatment for Hypoesthesia

The treatment for oral hypoesthesia depends on the underlying cause of the condition. If it is caused by a specific event, such as a dental procedure, it may resolve on its own over time. However, if the hypoesthesia is caused by more serious nerve damage, treatment may be necessary.

When hypoesthesia is caused by nerve damage during a dental procedure, there are several treatment options that may be available to the injured person, including the following:

  • Medications: Medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and corticosteroids may be used to reduce inflammation and swelling around the affected nerves.
  • Physical Therapy: Physical therapy may be recommended to help restore sensation and improve function in the affected area.
  • Surgery: In severe cases of nerve damage, surgery may be necessary to repair or reconstruct damaged nerves.
  • Nerve Stimulation: Nerve stimulation techniques, such as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), may be used to help restore sensation in the affected area.