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Mark Bornfeld, DDS
Mark Bornfeld, DDS, Dentist
Category: Dental
Satisfied Customers: 5989
Experience:  Clinical instructor, NYU College of Dentistry; 37 years private practice experience in general dentistry, member Academy of General Dentistry, ADA
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what makes your lower lip go numb

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Several times a day, my lower lip goes numb as if I had been @ a dentist and he numbed it. After a few minutes, it goes away

How long have you been experiencing this numbness? Is there any particular activity that brings on this symptom? Does it happen to your entire lower lip, or does it affect only one side of your lip?

If your numbness occurs only on one side, have you had any recent dental problem or dental procedure on a lower tooth on the side where the numbness occurs?

Do you have any neurological disorder or peripheral neuropathy secondary to any other systemic disorder, such as diabetes?
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
I have been experiencing this now for about 6 months, while I've had no dental work, I do have a couple of really bad teeth. I do not have any disorders that I'm aware of. Also, the numbness is to just the lower right half of my lip. Also, my mother also states she has the same problem.

Numbness is a non-specific symptom caused by disruption of the function of a sensory nerve-- in this case, the so-called inferior alveolar nerve, which supplies the teeth, gums, and lower lip with sensation.

Disruption of sensory function can occur for a number of different reasons. The more mundane explanation might include a chronic infection in a lower tooth-- most likely a lower premolar (3rd or 4th tooth back from the midline). If one of your "really bad teeth" is a lower premolar on the side where the numbness occurs, this is the likely source of the problem, since the root tips of these teeth lie very closely to the nerve as it emerges from the lower jaw bone and runs into the lip.

However, if the numbness cannot be traced to a particular tooth, there are other possibilities-- most notably some persistent infection with a "neurotropic" (i.e., nerve- affecting) virus, such as herpes simplex or herpes zoster. Usually these viral infections also manifest with visible lesions, such as cold sores or other blistering lesions, although the viral infection may be active without any visible signs.

Although there are neurological symptoms such as numbness that might occur with more global nerve disorders (such as multiple sclerosis or diabetic neuropathy), these disorders are seldom isolated to a single nerve such as you describe; as such, I don't think there's cause for worry in this regard. However, if a thorough exam by your dentist fails to discover a reason for your numbness, you should consider seeking a consultation with a neurologist, if only to cover all the diagnostic bases.

Hope this helps...
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Dr. Bornfeld,
Thank you so much for your help. I have one other question. What is inferior alvelor nerve?

The inferior alveolar nerve is the sensory nerve that runs through the lower jaw. It runs from the base of the skull to the lower jaw as the "mandibular nerve", one of the three divisions of the 5th cranial nerve; before it enters the lower jaw, it sends out sensory branches to the tongue and floor of the mouth (the lingual nerve), the cheek (the long buccal nerve), and then enters the lower jaw as the inferior alveolar nerve, where it sends out branches to the jaw bone and teeth. As the inferior alveolar nerve reaches the roots of the lower premolars, it sends a branch out through the side of the jaw through a small opening (the mental foramen), and this branch is referred to as the mental nerve. (In this case, mental has nothing to do with the mind, but the chin, which is "mentum" in Latin). The mental nerve supplies sensation to the gums over the lower front teeth, one half of the lower lip, and the skin covering one half of the chin.

You can see a schematic diagram of the nerves of the lower jaw here:
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