If you’re missing one or more teeth, you’ve likely heard that a titanium dental implant is an effective and modern replacement option. But there’s been some talk in the media about dental implants causing migraine headaches, most notably in 2013 when entertainer Dick Van Dyke claimed he was experiencing migraine headaches related to his dental implants. But how much truth is there to this claim? Can dental implants cause migraines, or are Van Dyke’s symptoms the result of another problem? Here’s what you need to know.
How the Myth Started
When Van Dyke came forward with his migraine story, he said that his migraines had been ongoing for a period of seven years. After rigorous tests including an MRI and a spinal tap, his doctors found nothing abnormal. That’s when Van Dyke concluded his dental implants must be the problem, although his publicity rep says that the doctors’ tests were inconclusive. From there, major entertainment tabloids caught wind of the story – and changed the headlines just enough to make it sound as if a doctor had made the dental implant conclusion instead of Van Dyke.
What Does the Science Tell Us?
Currently, there is no scientific evidence to support the idea that dental implants cause migraines. Dr. Lawrence G. Falender is a Fellow of the American Association of Oral Surgeons and a faculty member of the Indiana University School of Dentistry. Dr. Falender says that in the 26 years that he’s been performing dental implant surgery, he has never come across a case of dental implants causing migraines. Meanwhile. Dr. David Edenbaum has a scientific rationale for why dental implants can’t cause migraines in healthy patients. Dr. Edenbaum, who has been named one of America’s top dentists nine times courtesy of the Consumer’s Research Council of America, says that dental implants are too short to cause migraines. To cause a migraine, a dental implant would need to extend into the mouth – but they’re always encased in the jawbone, so even an improperly placed dental implant couldn’t cause a migraine.
But what about Van Dyke’s story? If a dental implant is too short to cause a migraine, then why did Van Dyke start getting migraines after getting a dental implant?
As it turns out, there are two potential causes of ongoing migraines in dental implant patients. The MELISA Foundation, an organization dedicated to the study of metal allergies, says that migraines are a symptom of a metal allergy.Though metal allergies are rare (they affect only 2-4% of all patients, according to MELISA Diagnostics), a 2013 research paper found that a metal allergy would explain symptoms such as headaches, muscle pain, and indigestion. Dental implants are made of titanium and can cause symptoms – including migraines – in people with metal allergies. That means the cause of the migraine isn’t the dental implant itself, but rather, the allergic reaction to it.
It’s also possible that improperly installed dental implants can create a misaligned bite, which could result in migraines. Misaligned bite is a minor issue that can be fixed with a bite analysis and orthotic.
Are Dental Implants a Safe Tooth Replacement Option?
Modern dental implants have been around since the 1970s, and the surgery used to fix titanium to the jawbone has been around even longer. After 45 years of research, there still aren’t any studies showing a link between dental implants and migraines. The truth is that when they’re properly inserted, dental implants are quite safe.
If you have one or more missing teeth, a dental implant is a high-quality and natural-looking replacement option that keeps your whole mouth and jaw healthy. And although there have been stories about dental implants causing migraines, most patients experience no adverse symptoms. Do you have safety concerns about dental implants? We can help. Call Badie Dental at (520) 325-3022 to book a consultation and discover if dental implants are the right treatment option for you.