Can Dental Implants Cause Migraine Headaches?

Delilah, a dental implant patient, asks:
Can dental implants in the upper jaw cause migraine headaches? After having four dental implants inserted in the upper jaw I started having migraine headaches within two months. The first sign of a problem would be pressure in my head, then throbbing around the implant then the migraines–classic migraines.

My neurologist did extensive testing to see if there was a neurological problem caused directly by the dental implants. None were found. The dental surgeon said the implants didn’t cause the headache.

In my medical history it is important to note that I never had migraines or suffered from headaches before surgery. After the troublesome implant was removed — the migraines would slowly subside within a month. Several months later another implant would act up, be removed after great consideration and the migraines would stop. Within the past two and a half years four upper implants were removed. My general dentist and dental surgeon say they have not heard of migraines related to dental implants and have not been able to find any reports of this in the dental literature.

I now wear a full upper denture. The last upper implant was removed two months ago. The severe migraines have subsided but I now have low-grade headaches which the surgeon says is due to a TMJ problem and my internist wonders if it a rebound headache. The four implants in the lower jaw haven’t been problematic. Other than high cholesterol and acid reflux ( one year), both being treated by medication, I am a fairly active 63-year- old. I am also allergic to nickel. But I was assured the implant do not have not nickel in them.

Any insight would be helpful to me and the team involved. Thanks very much.

34 thoughts on “Can Dental Implants Cause Migraine Headaches?

  1. TMJ problems and an occlusion that is not correct can cause headaches. This is the only likely cause of your problem that I can think of.

    If you have any restorative work in the future use a dentist that takes a facebow record and restores you in centric relation. This is a position where the muscles, jaws and joints are in a comfortable position, and should be relatively easy to do unless you have a clicking jaw.

  2. Delilah-

    In your case maxillary implants as they are removed diminish migraine symptoms.

    I assume the same dentist made the denture as made the implant prosthetic. So if he can perfect the bite in the denture, why would one assume he could not create a perfected bite in the implant prosthodontics?

    I think attributing this to bite is while possible is lazy.

    Diagnosis properly comprises a list of suspicions graded for likelihood. We call this a “differential diagnosis”.

    Bite belongs on the list. Due to the history it is less likely—localization of symptoms to implant surroundings, and local relief as the implants are removed, one at a time.

    Another possibility is nueropathy.

    Let’s say a finger is pinched. The pain is felt. This is normal.

    However if we have a car that has an alarm that goes off for seemingly no reason, that would be like a nueropathy. Let’s say an implant is placed and a migraine is experienced FOR SEEMINGLY NO REASON, that would be on the differential diagnosis as Nueropathy.

    Additionally, I am a licensed California Dental Acupuncturist. I would also suspect interruption of energy flow through the meridians where the metallic implant fixtures are located which could affect the circulation in a way to trigger migraines.

    Finally, there is the placebo effect, which could describe pyschosomatic re-experience of the implant placement trauma as a migraine through unconscious mechanisms like PTSD.

    So the differential would be

    Nueropathy
    Energy Flow disruption
    Bite irregularity
    Placebo effect

    No doubt for the average practitioner these concepts are mythical rather than evidence based. And therefore often rejected out of hand. I am hoping to offer you insight into your experience, rather than deny it happened to you. And from that knowledge a modicum of peace of mind, as it seems nothing more needs to be done.

    Dr. Neff

  3. Delilah,

    As someone who completed a residency in orofacial pain and currently completing a periodontics residency I can tell you that I have never heard of migraines being caused by dental implants nor am I aware of any scientific literature that suggests it. I’m not denying your concerns, however I’d like to point out that most chronic pains associated with implants, and any type of surgery for that matter, are neuropathic in nature. Meaning that the nerves are in a chronic state of inflammation and irritation. This chronic irritation can trigger migraine headaches along with many other nociceptive triggers. I can’t explain why the migraines subsided once the implants were removed since neuropathic pain (assuming that is your diagnosis)usually worsens with further surgical intervention. Another possibility which was mentioned by some of my colleagues is that you suffer from TMD (temporomandibular disorders), ofcourse I can’t tell for sure since I have not examined you. Pain origniating from your jaws and jaw joints has been shown to trigger migraines as well. In a nutshell, I highly doubt that your migraines were triggered by the implants themselves and more likely are due to the surgical trauma.

    Best,

    AB

  4. It is possable some minor twig of a nerve was involved, that was left from one of the dental branches. This is just a theory. We do not have all the answers.

  5. Migrainous headache and its predisposing factors are already known to physicians.Fluctuations in estrogen level seem to trigger headaches in many women with previous history of migrainous attacks or a tendency to develop migraines during pregnancy or menopause. Some hormone containing medications, such as contraceptives and hormone replacements, may cause migraines as well. Certain foods such as alcoholic beverages, cheeses, chocolate; pickles, sea foods, aspartame, caffeine, monosodium glutamate , certain seasonings; and many canned or processed foods are able to trigger the headache and its other symptoms.Stress at work or home also can lead to migraines.Sensory stimuli such as bright lights and /or unusual smells,tobacco smoke, missing sleep or getting too much of it, can lead to migraine attacks in some individuals. Intense physical exertion, including sexual activity or heavy sport, may provoke migraines. Certain medications, climate or season change or any alteration in altitude or time zone can aggravate migraines. Dental implants are not potentially a risk factor for migraine unless they assist in triggering the symptoms by accompanying medications or surgical sterss.

  6. “The first sign of a problem would be pressure in my head, then throbbing around the implant then the migraines–classic migraines.”,Delilah said.

    In addition to above suspicious causes, there maybe another possible reason:
    Maxillary sinus perforation! It is possible that the implants were placed into the (susceptible) sinus and caused sinusitis, althouth it is rare. Sinusitis can mimic migrane headache symptoms.

    Suggest you to see these articles:
    Sinus headache or migraine? Considerations in making a differential diagnosis.Cady RK, Schreiber CP. Neurology. 2002 May 14;58(9 Suppl 6):S10-4.

    Chronic daily headache: when to suspect sinus disease.Houser SM, Levine HL.Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2008 Jan;12(1):45-9.

    Delilah,
    Do you have any past history of sinusitis? Didn’t your implant surgon tell you anything about the proximity of dental implants and maxillary sinus?

  7. “After having four dental implants inserted in the upper jaw I started having migraine headaches within two months. The first sign of a problem would be pressure in my head, then throbbing around the implant then the migraines–classic migraines.”, Delilah said.

    In addition to above suspicious causes, there maybe another possible reason:
    Maxillary sinus perforation during implant placement and subsequently sinusitis, although it is rare. SINUSITIS CAN MIMIC MIGRAINE HEADACHE.
    Suggest to see these two relevant articles:

    1. Sinus headache or migraine? Considerations in making a differential diagnosis.Cady RK, Schreiber CP. Neurology. 2002 May 14;58(9 Suppl 6):S10-4.

    2. Chronic daily headache: when to suspect sinus disease.Houser SM, Levine HL. Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2008 Jan;12(1):45-9.

    Delilah,
    Do you have any past history of sinusitis? Didn’t your implant surgeon tell you anything about the proximity of implant and maxillary sinus floor?

    Glad that you are fine now,
    Neda Moslemi

  8. Dr. Moslemi
    She has been under care by her dentist,an oral surgeon and an internist.Do you think that none of them could ever ever thought or even looked for the position of the placed implants in regards to the antral cavity and its floor? Do you think that they removed the implants even without a thorough radiographic evaluation of the surrounding maxillary bone and the sinus? If there was any evidence of the antral involvement,those practitioners would certainly had found it out,at least, by looking at her sinus X-rays.

  9. Dear Dr. Jafari,
    Yes, you are right, It is very rare. But as you know, in some situations, sinus perforation (as a consequence of implant insertion) is not evident in panoramic X-ray, and CT scan or CBCT is required to evaluate it exactly.

    On the other hand, as the patient said, the pain began within 2 months after implant insertion in upper jaw; potentially before loading. If so, TMJ problem as a cause of migraine headache will be ruled out.

    Thank you so much for your considerations about my note.
    Neda Moslemi

  10. I’ve had persistent headaches for the better part of 4 years now. I have 4 implants on each upper side. I had a temp bridge on my left side for about a year before I could afford a permanent bridge. I had no problems with the temp bridge. When the permanent bridge was installed I started to get these headaches. I would have the bridge removed to give me some relief. In the beginning I would get relief from the removal. I now have the headache permanently. A couple of my implants do pierce the sinus on both sides. My headache is always on the left side, starting from just above the implants and radiating up to the mid line of my skull.
    I just came from my second ENT doctor who(after a CAT scan) insists I don’t have a sinus problem. (even though antibiotics have helped in the past). I’ve had a brain MRI with some sort of dye.
    I’ve had acupuncture 3 or 4 times. The Pedodontist sold me a night guard. My dentist gave me an NTI. I’ve probably forgotten a few details. My periodontist, after 4 years, wants me to go to an Orofacial Pain Management doctor. The latest ENT doc want me to go to a Neurologist and get another MRI of the brain.
    I’m old school. I respect all my doctors. My dentist is one of the best humans I’ve ever met. He took care of me many times when I was unemployed years ago. I don’t blame anyone. I just want to get rid of the pain. No pain meds work. I’m told I can’t remove the implants. I’m tired. I’m just tired.
    Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
    Tim

  11. Dear Tim, first of all, I believe that you should seek for the help of a therapist.The tones of some your phrases are very suicidal and they sound that you are very desperate.Of course there is a cure for every pain and a way out for every misery.We should all get together to find a way to solve your problems for good.Before any attempt, I vehemently recommend you to have a psychologic consultation.You should know that we are all here to help.

  12. Please don’t make inferences like that on a public internet site. The moderator has my permission to remove my comment and any further comments.
    Thanks,

  13. I am in the final phase of a full upper dental implants. For the last 2 weeks I am having terrible headaches involviing nausea. My dentist can’t figure out what is wrong. I have paid around $ 70,000 and it is taking four year. The headaches are so intense that I am willing to loose all money already paid and get ride of the implants. I no longer believe implants are a good idea.

  14. Dear Constant Pain: Thousands of folks have dental implants. Millions of folks have headaches for many different reasons. You have had implants now for at least two years, but headaches for only two weeks. Why blame the implants and/or the dentist? CALL YOUR PHYSICIAN!

  15. Mr Jafari – I am apalled at your comment. Telling someone they’re sudicidal when all they need is guidance and reassurance?

    Tim on behalf of many of us, I apologize for the comment.

    I would suggest (as I often do) MULTIPLE consults – see some specialists, take your xrays… go for some consults and see what can be done.

    Most of us cannont help much without a proper history and records (xrays, clinical exam, models, bite analysis etc). Go seek advise from experienced dentists.

    I do not downplay inexperience docs at all, but in your case… because it’s been such a long haul I’d suggest someone well trained in dealing with complex cases. Which city are you located in?

  16. To Vancouver,
    Sir or Madame,I am an oral and maxillofacial surgeon with the background of 34 years of academic career and of course both medico-dental training.I just tried to help by asking a patient with that kind of clinical features, to seek for a professional evaluation by a physician trained in psychiatry.I do not find it appaling at all,especially when the patient does not have a full identity.
    Of course, you do not have to apologize on my behalf because if I really have offended anyone,I deeply regret it myself, but,it seems that what is really appaling to you is that somebody from another part of the world which is neither North America nor Western Europe, has made a voice.That may sound to you unforgiven or APPALING.

  17. I agree with Vancouver. There was no need to suggest the man is suicidal and needs psychological help. I am experiencing migraines myself and I have been for a brain scan, neck x-rays, bought a night guard, have been to an osteopath, bought a new bed etc. And all this because I started to have migraine headaches 2 weeks after maxillofacial surgery. It’s been 5 months now with the headaches which are debilitating at times and no one can find the problem. I too, am tired of the pain. Sorry for your suffering Tim, I am in the same boat!

  18. Delilah.

    I am just another migraineur. But I can tell you this, I suffer migraines only on the left side and after having a Panoramic X-ray I believe I know why.

    There is a nerve twig which is in the exact location where the migraine originates. If it become irritated or inflamed, migraines invariably follow. Sinus changes can irritate this nerve along with other triggers.

    Migraines still apparently confound the medical community, but do not let anyone tell you that you are not suffering pain!

    Since this is an older post, I am hopeful you have found a solution to your problem in the interim.

  19. I too suffer migraines and sinus pain, with two maxillary implants over 4 years old. I had no pain after implant surgery, the only precipitating even is the removal of “excess” tissue around the implants a year ago and almost instantly after the healing, I developed chronic migraines, sinus pain and upper jaw pain. I have seen numerous doctors, periodontists and maxillofacial specialists with no answer. I’m open to any suggestions where to go next, I am very exhausted of the pain.

  20. I had a lower jaw implant a month ago, and have been having headaches and jaw pain since then. I find it odd that every messege board I go to, the dr.’s say it’s not the implant – when more and more people are posting problems like this. During and after surgery my jaw hinge? has been quite painful, and I am wondering if trauma to the jaw, from pulling it wide open, is what is causing my problem…

  21. The implant is probably one the most amazing innovations introduced in the field of dentistry!
    However, it is a non- living mechanism , osseointegrated into a biologic environment.

    By itself, the implant has:
    1. No biologic components [vascular, neural, cellular]
    to connect it to the body to indicate the presence of any imbalances within the masticatory system.Free nerve
    endings, indicators for pain are absent. “Implant ache”
    is simply non-existant.
    2. Being ankylosed [cemented to the bone] is not equipped with periodontal ligaments which cushion the
    natural teeth to minimize, counter-act, or disperse
    possible traumatic forces directed to the tooth.
    3. The absence of proprioceptors renders it incapable of registering undue pressure, thereby making the patient unaware of pre-mature bites, leading to the continuation of the activity with the resultant
    chronic irritation and inflammation of areas outside the implant.
    4. Its inorganic chemistry renders it impervious to
    osteoclastic activities which may be triggered to
    correct the effects of traumatic occlusion.

    Doctors, given these conditions, is it possible
    that the role of implants in DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY
    transmitting traumatic occlusal forces into the oral structures, nerves is being over-looked or being
    dismissed pre-maturely?

    Is it possible that the pain that is being referred somewhere, is being perceived or experienced
    by the some patients as TMJ dysfunction
    headaches, sinus problems, trigeminal neuralgias,
    migraines … depending on its location?

    I would truly appreciate any feedback.

    Warmest Regards,

  22. Dear Shirley; Your question is a good one. The forces transmitted along the boney buttresses is a point to consider. This may be mitigated with a neuromuscular analysis and construct the bite from this finding. As per other issues with pain and discomfort: 1. crossed arch fixation in the upper jaw could make the patient feel uncomfortable due to decreasing the flexing of various cranial bones (theory). Perhaps the same applies for the lower. we know the mandible flexes medial as we open. 2. The grafting or bone augmentation may (not in most cases)press or touch various vital structures. 3. Honestly no really knows for sure what any metals that we place in the body really do period. It’s all theory and we need a long term (life span) study with a large sample size (5000) to really get to the bottom of the issue. Till then everyone is talking out of their hats.

  23. Yes, migraine is a very common problem. There are plenty of reasons why it happens. Not sure if you are aware of it, but it can be the symptom of toxic poisoning caused by intake of chemicals. It might happen at the office or a factory that are not people-friendly. lol Chemicals can be in the cleaning product that you use unknowingly, or in a pharmaceutical brand. If one has recurring migraines, I also suggest to do a cancer test. In many cases there is a connection between the cause for both. And if the cause is determined towards being an external factor, a person that suffers from the condition can file a law suit against a wrong doing business and force them to revise policies accordingly to which they operate the business. There are many cases when victim receives millions of dollars as compensation. Obviously, it not only covers a great treatment, but secures comfortable life for the wholefamily.

  24. If you are having problems with a dental implant, it can be related to your immune system. Certain metals and restorative materials can react with your immune system creating migraines, etc. While the dental “community” frequently denies this, you can have your blood screened to understand your reactivity to metals and other materials. Consider the MELISA test (through Neuroscience) and Clifford Consulting Dental panel through Clifford Consulting in Co.

  25. I have to say, I’m in the middle process of receiving implants and I too am suffering from tension headaches in the temporal area. I just called the dentist because it’s too the point that I cannot sleep and it’s hard for me to drive due to the sharp pain. I would never recommend this procedure to anyone. I had to have it done not by choice b/c after having braces, my four front teeth roots worn away.

  26. This is all starting to make sense now. Post implant in my upper jaw I have had pressure in my head and uneasiness to the point that I have gone to emergency twice and visited my dentist twice. Full p
    Blood work and cat scan performed all negative. I have throbbing pain in the local area of implants. I don’t have a history of migraines
    And ant even tell you what a migraine feels like. Personally I ma convinced that there is an issue with these implants and the dental society is not willing to except. There’s too much money at risk.
    All of the symptoms are the same as these other patients are describing. The periodontal institute needs to listen to our voices and stop ignoring the issue. Let’s stop blaming that this is not clinically proven, just because this is the loop hole. People are suffering and something needs to be done now. I am having another specialist review the implants for a second opinion.
    I shall post results.

Comments are closed.