Lingual Nerve Anatomy

  • The lingual nerve supplies sensation to the anterior 2/3 of the tongue.
  • A branch of the mandibular nerve (the third portion of the trigeminal nerve), it usually travels along the inner surface of the mandible, under the gingiva, then turns medially to supply the tongue.
  • The lingual nerve is occasionally damaged during removal of the third molars (“wisdom teeth”) if it has a variation in course and travels over the alveolar ridge. When the gingiva is incised to access the tooth, the nerve can be damaged or transected. There is no way to determine the location of the nerve prior to surgery.

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