Multiple Sclerosis and Dental Work

Female dentist with male patient
Dean Mitchell / Getty Images

I just found out that I need a dental implant (long story involving an old root canal). For people who aren't entirely familiar with the implant procedure, it is pretty long and drawn-out in most cases, involving surgery to extract the remainder of the tooth (in my case), placing the implant, possible bone grafts, waiting several months for the bone to solidify around the implant, then fixing the new (fake) tooth in place.

Clearly, this is kind of a stressful procedure, especially for those of us who do not love dental procedures.

Speaking from my own experience, I know that my MS symptoms tend to act up when I experience physical and emotional stress. So far for me, it has usually been pretty minor things, like my feet tingling more when my flight is delayed or feeling my fatigue more severely when I have specific worries.

I tried to research the effect of dental work on MS symptoms, but this is a pretty hard one to study - it would be really hard to get a patient population together who was having similar dental procedures done and even more difficult to evaluate their symptoms (and separate some of their observations from the biased observations that naturally occur when scientists link something in a study participant's mind). Plus, let's be honest - who, besides us, would really care? And, even if we found the most sympathetic people in the world to our possible plight of increased symptoms during and following dental work, what the heck could anyone do to alleviate the situation?

All I could find when I looked was information about: how people with MS may have more oral hygiene problems because it is harder for some of us to perform brushing and flossing duties, due to tremor or spasticity; that it may be more difficult for dentists to work on those of us who have a hard time keeping our mouths open or sit still; lots of people saying that mercury fillings cause MS; and (my favorite) a dentist writing into a site to say that his patients with MS tend to be "moody, nervous or even unstable."

Therefore, once again I am turning to you, the people living with MS, just like me, who may be able to say, "Hey! Wait a minute! Maybe I do remember something happening for a couple of days after that last root canal..." While there might not be a whole lot any of us can do to make it stop or make it better, it often helps break the cycle of stress to know that others with MS have been there and felt similar things, but eventually emerge on the other side no worse for the wear.

So, let's hear it - anyone out there had increased symptoms during a dental procedure? What about in the days following? Anyone had a relapse happen that seems to be coincidentally connected to dental work? Any weird reactions to the anesthesia? 

Continue Reading