Zinc Poisoning From Denture Creams

Posted on Sep 28, 2012 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

You may have read of lawsuits being brought against major manufacturers, such as Proctor & Gamble (maker of Fixodent) and GlaxoSmithKline (maker of Poligrip) due to the effects of zinc poisoning. One of the ingredients in denture creams is zinc. When overuse of denture creams put too much zinc in the body, it depletes the body’s natural balance of copper. Since copper regulates neurological activity, such an imbalance can lead to nerve damage or even neuropathy, a painful nerve disorder for which there is no cure.

The issue seems to evolve around the amount of denture cream an individual uses on a regular basis. Although the manufacturers estimate that one tube of denture cream will last between 1-2 months, some users admit to using a great deal more.

Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (Dallas) published findings from a study along these lines. They studied characteristics of denture-wearing patients who developed nerve damage after using more than the recommended amount of the product on a continual basis. Some were using as much as two tubes per week, and the findings showed that this was only commonality shared by those with nerve damage or neuropathy.

When an excessive amount of denture cream is used, it is typically due to trying to secure an ill-fitting denture or partial. When dentures are first made, they are shaped to conform to the gum ridge for which they are designed to adhere. Denture creams help to keep the denture in place moreso to this foundation. However, without natural tooth roots embedded in the jaw bone, the bone begins to shrink over time. As the ridge declines in height and width, there is less and less of a foundation to hold the denture. Reapplying denture cream several times a day may help for a brief amount of time, but by this extent of bone loss, no cream or adhesive can overcome the loose fit for very long.

Poor fitting dentures often cause adults to eat soft foods that dissolve easily in the mouth. These tend to lack a healthy balance of protein rich meats, hearty grains, and fruits and vegetables packed with vitamins and minerals. Not being able to chew properly compromises an important part of the digestion process. It is a fact that denture wearers have more gastrointestinal problems and take more medications than adults who have their own teeth.

Not having a secure fit with dentures also prevents some people from being socially active. Because of the potential for embarrassing slips or clicks, many adults will shy away from gatherings rather than risk the worst. Plus, I’ve heard many patients tell how they detested the denture creams while drinking coffee because the heat would melt the coffee and that’s all they could taste.

Because dental implants are held by the jaw bone, just as natural tooth roots, they restore chewing comfort and biting stability. Dental implants allow you to eat the foods you love and laugh without worry. Denture creams, pastes, powders, etc. are not needed. Dental implants are safe, successful, and designed to last a lifetime.

I can’t think of one good reason to select dentures over dental implants. Nor can the growing number of adults who are selecting dental implants as the nation’s preferred method of tooth replacement. If you’d like to discuss dental implants, call (828) 274-9440.

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