According to Stewart, denture adhesives like Fixodent and Poligrip have been linked to neurological damages caused by zinc poisoning. Too much zinc—a heavy metal that is toxic to a person's system—can decrease copper levels in the patient's blood. Patients with zinc poisoning may experience balance problems, loss of sensation, slowness walking, numbness and tingling. Symptoms of zinc poisoning and the resulting copper deficiency include fatigue, hair loss, skin sores, slowed healing, paleness and chronic diarrhea.
Complicating matters is the fact that patients with zinc poisoning often are often misdiagnosed with other health problems, such as neuropathy. However, neuropathy is not caused only by zinc poisoning, making a blood test necessary to prove excess zinc.
"It is important that a simple blood test be done to determine the zinc and copper levels in the patient's system," Stewart says. "If somebody has suffered those symptoms and has not received relief from their doctors, they need to ask for a blood test. Some of the zinc poisoning effects are permanent, but once the source of contamination—the denture cream—is removed, the heavy metal level in the blood reverts to normal while the damage may remain.
"Basically, although patients may have lifelong effects from denture cream zinc poisoning, once they stop using the denture adhesive, their zinc levels may return to normal, making it almost impossible to prove a causal link between denture cream and their health problems.
"Everyone processes heavy metals differently. Some people may revert to normal zinc levels in 40 days, other people may take 90 days. The only way they know about having elevated zinc levels is to go and get the test. They should certainly ask their doctor if a blood test would be warranted. They should tell their doctor that they believe they have been exposed to toxic levels of zinc and that they want the test done."
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"The damage from zinc poisoning is not differentiated, meaning other conditions could cause the same problems," Stewart says. "For example, lead could cause similar problems, but we can't tell the difference between lead poisoning and zinc poisoning unless it's through a blood test. Also, not everyone who uses denture cream suffers from zinc poisoning, so we need the test to prove the case."
Plaintiff's damages could include medical bills, lost wages if they were unable to work, medical monitoring costs into the future, and potentially damages for pain and suffering due to violations of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act.