Zinc Poisoning Linked to Denture Creams

By Catherine M. Fascilla, D.D.S.

Recent  studies are showing that the overuse of Fixadent and the older
formulations of Poligrip (prior to May 2010) causes nerve damage. The culprit is zinc. It is used as an odor  blocker and bonding agent  in Fixadent  denture cream and has been removed  from Poligrip. In addition to being swallowed,  it can be absorbed through the skin and gum tissue.

For years, doctors have reported mysterious cases of neurological problem that include numbness and weakness of the limbs and difficulty walking. Around the year 2000, researchers found these patients to be lacking copper. Copper deficiency can be caused by an overdose of zinc. The link to denture creams was first made by an Italian researcher in 2007 and again by the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in 2008. Since then, other studies have had similar findings.

Our bodies do need zinc and zinc is found in foods that we eat. The body balances zinc with copper. People who get too much zinc will have dangerously low levels of copper, and develop a condition call hypocupremia. Excessive zinc itself may be toxic.

According a spokesperson from Proctor & Gamble, the manufacturer of Fixadent, the amount of zinc an average denture adhesive user would ingest from daily usage of Fixadent is less than the zinc in most daily multivitamins, less than the zinc in six oysters and comparable to the zinc in six ounces of ground beef. When used correctly, a 2.4-ounce tube should last six to eight weeks. Patients suffering nerve damage were using two or even three tubes a week.

It is very important that dentures fit properly. Ill-fitting dentures traumatize the gums, are painful to wear or are too loose to stay in place. Sometimes, even the best-fitting dentures do not hold usually due to lack of good bone support. These are the cases where a small amount of denture adhesive is helpful.

If you are a denture wearer and are concerned about zinc poisoning because you use denture creams, have your dentist evaluate your dentures. A denture reline or perhaps new dentures may be in order. If adhesives are necessary, you may want to consider zinc-free brands like Effergrip, Secure or Poligrip or use Fixadent very sparingly. Remember that all products should be used as directed.


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