Can Amalgam Fillings Contribute to Fibromyalgia?

Amalgam fillings

Image: Stocksnap/ Pixabay

If you struggle with chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia long enough, you’ll eventually hear a lot of different theories about what causes it. People have suggested that fibromyalgia is actually caused by everything from toxic mold to humid climates. And while some of these theories have more of a scientific basis than others, sometimes you come across a theory that sounds a little far-fetched, only to learn that it might be a lot closer to the truth than you imagined.

For instance, maybe you’ve heard that amalgam fillings, the kind used in dental work, actually contribute to chronic conditions like fibromyalgia. As it turns out, there may a lot more to this theory than you might expect. So, can amalgam fillings really contribute to fibromyalgia? Let’s look at the evidence.

Amalgam Fillings And Fibromyalgia

The standard dental amalgam filling is made up of about 50% mercury. The rest is a mixture of silver, tin, and copper. Doctors have used it to fill the holes in teeth caused by cavities for over 100 years because it is inexpensive and long-lasting.

But recently, scientists have begun to wonder how safe they actually are. Obviously, mercury can carry a range of health risks, including damage to the brain and nerves. Symptoms of mercury exposure include muscle weakness, tremors, and insomnia. Long-term exposure to high levels of mercury can even cause insanity. For instance, the phrase “mad as a hatter”  is a reference to the fact that people who made hats used to work frequently with mercury and often suffered the consequences.

Amalgam fillings present a special risk for a few reasons. First, when amalgam fillings are first put into the teeth, they are heated until they melt. This means that a small amount of mercury is vaporized and can be inhaled into the lungs. This type of exposure to mercury is particularly dangerous. Second, the fact that the fillings remain in the teeth means that people with the fillings are exposed to the mercury for years or decades.

In 2009, the World Health Organization looked at potentially banning the use of amalgam fillings. But because this would make it difficult for people in poor countries to get dental work, the WHO decided to suggest that dentists slowly stop using them instead.

Obviously, that doesn’t help if you’ve already had amalgam fillings installed, as many people around the world have. And recently, research has suggested that these fillings could have a link to chronic health conditions, especially those that cause fatigue and depression like fibromyalgia.

Now, it’s important to remember that this link has not been conclusively proven. The referenced study simply suggests that a large amount of evidence supports the idea that there is a link, not that there definitely is one. And it would almost certainly be a mistake to say that dental fillings cause fibromyalgia.

The true cause of fibromyalgia remains a mystery, but it seems to have something to do with the nervous system. This suggests that mercury, which affects the nervous system, could play a role in the severity of symptoms. But many people without dental fillings get fibromyalgia, which means that there isn’t a direct correlation between fibromyalgia and fillings.

However, could mercury from fillings make your symptoms worse? Could it contribute to developing fibromyalgia? That’s where things get a little murkier. The truth is that we simply don’t know.

The fact remains that the level of mercury from fillings is probably still quite low. You’re more likely to be exposed to dangerous levels of mercury from a seafood-rich diet than from your fillings. But even small levels of mercury can have a dangerous impact on your health.

So, while you might want to hold off on scheduling an appointment with your dentist until we establish a more definite link, you should still be mindful of mercury exposure. Avoid foods that you know are high in mercury, especially if you’re already struggling with fibromyalgia. And if you do need to get a cavity filled, it might be a good idea to ask for a non-amalgam filling.

As always, if you’re concerned about the risk of mercury exposure, consult your doctor. They’ll be able to give you the information you need and test your blood for exposure to mercury.

So, what do you think? Is there a link between fillings and fibromyalgia, or is it overblown? Have you had fillings removed because of the risk? Did you notice a change in your symptoms? Let us know in the comments.