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Denture Creams Stick It To You in More Ways Than One

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Louisville, KYA leading neurologist and lead author of a paper on the potential effects of denture cream zinc poisoning says that denture cream should not even be necessary if dentures are fitted properly. Even so, says Dr. Sharon Nations, denture cream containing zinc—such as Fixodent denture adhesive—should be used sparingly and at best temporarily.

As the 2/4/10 edition of the Louisville Courier-Journal revealed, most denture cream users have no idea that denture cream can harm them.

Dr. Nations, an associate professor of neurology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and the lead author of a report that put the spotlight on potential zinc poisoning from denture cream, noted that she and her colleagues have seen neurological problems in patients who have used large amounts of denture cream—as many as two or more tubes a week.

A tube of Fixodent denture cream, or any one of a number of brands, should last anywhere from a month to six weeks.

Nations' report, appearing in 2008 in the journal Neurology, first focused the spotlight on zinc in denture cream and the potential for trouble when used excessively. Her report detailed the experiences of four patients who used large amounts of Fixodent Original, Super Poligrip Original or Super Poligrip Extra Care with PoliSeal. Health problems among the patients included limb weakness, abnormal sensations such as numbness or tingling, incontinence, and poor balance.

While there are those who stress a need for more study and scientific evidence, Nations notes, "We did show that these patients had high levels of zinc, and there wasn't any other source for their zinc that we could find."

High levels of zinc can lead to copper deficiency, which is known to cause neurologic and hematologic (blood) disease, according to Nations' article. Of the four patients, she said, "I think what caused their neurologic problems was low copper [levels]."

Not all denture creams contain zinc. Those that do, says Dr. Robert Frazer of the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry, use zinc to improve the bonding capacity for the cream to bond dentures with the gum line. Zinc-free versions are sold, but "may not last as long," Frazer said.

Directions on denture creams containing zinc indicate that the cream should be used sparingly, applied in a series of small, regular dots—as opposed to a long, thick strip as some users are prone to do.


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