Cranial Nerve Problems Associated With Dental Infections

Health & Medical Blog

If you develop an infected tooth, you might experience a throbbing toothache, swollen gums, sensitivity when eating hot or cold foods and beverages, and in some cases, chills, fever, and body aches. While these are some of the most common symptoms of dental infections, you may experience those associated with your cranial nerves. Here are some cranial nerve problems that may be associated with a severely infected tooth, or dental abscess, and why you may need to see a brain specialist:


A severe or untreated dental infection can cause your seventh cranial nerve, also known as your facial nerve, to become inflamed or damaged. If this happens, you may experience parasthesias, or abnormal sensations, in different areas of your face, such as your forehead, cheeks, and chin.

These abnormal sensations may manifest as burning or pricking sensations, feeling like someone has splashed ice water on your face, severe pain, and numbness and tingling. After your dentist has treated your infected tooth, your facial nerve may heal, however, this may take many months.

In some cases facial nerve damage is permanent. Increasing your intake of vitamin B-rich foods or taking a multivitamin may help promote healing of the seventh cranial nerve, however, if you are still feeling abnormal sensations in your face, see a brain specialist or a neurologist.. He or she will need to perform a comprehensive neurological examination and may order medical imaging tests. The physician will develop an effective treatment plan based on the results of your neurological workup. 

Numb Tongue And Drooling

Another cranial nerve that may be affected as a result of your dental infection is the ninth cranial nerve, or the glossopharyngeal nerve. In addition to dental infections, your glossopharyngeal nerve can become damaged as a result of a tooth extraction, especially if the extracted tooth was on the bottom row of your teeth.

If your ninth cranial nerve gets damaged because of a dental problem, you may lose sensation in your tongue or feel tingling sensations. Loss of taste may also be a symptom of glossopharyngeal nerve impairment, as might difficulty swallowing, and drooling. 

If you develop a severe dental infection and notice any of the above symptoms, see your dentist, and make an appointment with a neurology specialist. With early diagnosis and treatment, cranial nerve damage related to dental infections can be reversed. If nerve damage is permanent, however, your doctor can recommend effective treatment options such as prescription medications, speech therapy, and dietary interventions that will help keep you comfortable so that your symptoms do not interfere with your ability to eat, drink, swallow, or live a pain-free life.


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