Recently, I was forwarded a news story about a recall of some dental adhesive pastes because they contained zinc. This perked my interest because a patient recently complained to me that his favorite adhesive had been removed from store shelves because it contained zinc. All of this surprised me because zinc is an essential trace metal that our bodies need every day to function. Several diseases are caused by not getting enough zinc in our diets, even to the extent that some people are prescribed zinc supplementation to prevent those problems. Zinc is also a common ingredient in throat lozenges and is sometimes recommended to promote healing of oral wounds and lesions. There must be more to this story.
A quick search of “zinc denture cream” brought back over 400,000 hits. To my surprise, the first few pages were all about lawsuits. I then searched “zinc lawyer” and got over 3 million hits. This was getting more interesting.
Some more reading and searching revealed the root of the story. Excessive use of some over-the-counter denture creams has recently been linked to nerve problems or zinc poisoning. Just as too little zinc can cause a problem, so can too much. Basically, some people were using so much zinc containing adhesive that it built up in their system over the years and caused a health problem.
So how much is too much? We truly do not know. It appears that people who suffered adverse effects from the denture creams were using five to twenty times the manufacturer’s recommended dosage for a number of years before they suffered any ill effects. Research on this subject is pending.
Fortunately, there are alternatives to zinc containing denture adhesives. Many over-the-counter adhesives are already available that contain no zinc. If an old denture has gotten loose through the years, it can be relined by a dentist to tighten the fit. A tight fitting denture usually needs very little if any adhesive. Also, studies show that dentures should be remade every eight years or so because of wear, anatomical changes, and bacterial growth. Finally, a few implants can hold dentures in place much stronger than any tube of paste. This can even sometimes be accomplished with an existing set of teeth to avoid the expense of a whole new pair.
Until next week, keep smiling.
-Please send comments to Drs. Parrish through www.ParrishDental.com.