LOSS OF TASTE SENSATION AFTER WISDOM TOOTH/THIRD MOLAR REMOVAL
In the United States, most oral surgeons remove wisdom teeth through the lateral and distal approach – rather than from the tongue or lingual aspect which is the case in certain European and European influenced locations. As far as I know, I have never had a case of diminished taste sensation after third molar/wisdom tooth removal. A recent article in the Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (J Oral Maxillofac Surg 76:258-266, 2018) addresses the question and reports a certain level of prevalence as a problem after removal of more difficult types of third molar teeth. This study comes out of a dental college in India; I might expect that they approach wisdom teeth from the lingual aspect (tongue side approach) to account for these results.
The anatomy of the “taste” nerve (chorda tympani) is different than the “feeling” nerve (trigeminal nerve); although both of them run along the tongue side of the lower jaw on each side along the third molar/wisdom tooth areas. Injury to this nerve is rare, but possible.
Clearly this is a risk that increases with age/difficulty of the extraction and represents another reason why it is wise to have the wisdom teeth evaluated at an early age (about 15 years old) and removed if there are risk concerns. At the younger age the risks are essentially zero.
No matter your age, the risk is almost always less when you are younger. Make sure to go to a competent, gentile, careful OMS for this care, especially if there are increased risks.
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