Do Dental Implants Really Cause Headaches?

Despite being used for decades with no major ill-effects, dental implants have been the subject of widespread speculation and worry ever since their introduction to dentistry. Dick Van Dyke claimed that his headaches were caused by dental implants in 2013, and since then patients have been eager to ascribe their own headaches and migraine to implants. But is the evidence there to back this idea? These are four common headache causes attributed to dental implants, along with whether or not they are actually plausible. 

Metal Allergies

Titanium is used in implants because it forms a layer of protective film called titanium dioxide, protecting it from the harsh conditions inside your mouth. Sometimes, this titanium is mixed with other metals to improve longevity or appearance. Some people are allergic to these metals and can experience swelling, discomfort and occasionally headaches with implants. If you know that you are allergic to other metals, you are more likely to be allergic to titanium and should be tested either before implant surgery. 

Sinus Pressure 

When replacing upper teeth, your surgeon may need to strengthen the bones around your sinuses to hold the implants securely. In very rare cases, the implants can protrude into your sinus cavity, causing inflammation that leads to congestion and potentially headaches as a result. While there is some chance of this occurring, a skilled surgeon will be able to navigate around your sinuses without issue, and your symptoms may simply be a minor infection or a developing cold. 

Misaligned Bite

Generally, dental implants are used to replace lost teeth or correct severe misalignment. If you only have a few implants, their position will be relatively unimportant. For extensive dental work, on the other hand, variations in angle, size and position can force your jaw into an unnatural resting position. The subsequent sore muscles in your jaw can then cause headaches, though this problem is very rare and only arises in cases with both substantial implant replacements and severe surgical error. 

Surgical Trauma

Finally, as with all surgeries, there is always a chance that complications will arise, such as a single damaged nerve that produces consistent pain for weeks or even months after the procedure. All of these possible issues may sound frightening, but your best course of action is to take any of your concerns and anxieties to your dental surgeon for an expert opinion. The truth is that up to 98 percent of all dental implant surgeries are completely successful, and you should not let unfounded worries prevent you from having the natural-looking, permanent smile you deserve.