People who wear dentures and use denture adhesives need to be aware of a possible complication concerning the amounts of zinc in the preparations of these adhesives. Although zinc is an important trace mineral and an essential part of a healthy diet, as it helps the immune system, too much zinc can be dangerous. Having high levels of zinc in your system can be toxic but it can also lead to low amounts of copper in your body. Copper is important because it is necessary to maintain healthy bones and connective tissue. Low levels of copper can lead to suppression of the bone marrow, and slow degeneration of the spinal cord. The result of this can be crippling nerve damage.

The link between zinc poisoning and denture adhesives only became apparent when cases of people who had developed difficulty walking, and weakness in the limbs were investigated. They were found to have very low levels of copper in their systems and doctors soon realised that this was due to zinc poisoning, but how had the patients involved been exposed to zinc? In 2007, an Italian doctor, Marco Spinazzi, made a tenuous connection to denture adhesives.

This has since been confirmed. The problem arose when people who had ill fitting dentures were using massive amounts of the denture adhesives Fixodent or Poligrip. Although both products contained less zinc than a daily multivitamin, because denture wearers were using so much of the product, they were wildly exceeding the recommended dose. This lead to the zinc poisoning.

Symptoms of zinc poisoning are numbness and movement difficulty affecting the feet and legs. This soon progresses to the arms, and patients begin losing their sense of balance. Other symptoms include weakness and fatigue, poor immune and thyroid functions, diminished pigment in skin and hair, osteoporosis, problems with joints, ruptured blood vessels, and an irregular heart beat. As dentures are worn regularly, they fit onto the gums and with age, your mouth will continue to change as the bone under your denture shrinks or recedes. It is thought that rather than change the dentures if they do not fit correctly, the patient tends to use more adhesive to try to get the denture to stay in place. Hence the resulting zinc poisoning.

It is important therefore, that anyone who wears dentures to make sure that they are comfortable and to see their dentist every six months for a regular check up. Another way to avoid excessive zinc in products, apart from over use is to buy a denture adhesive that is zinc free, such as Secure® Denture Adhesive. Secure® Denture Adhesive has no zinc in its composition and it is one of the only brands on the market that is fully waterproof, ensuring a secure, comfortable and water tight grip. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed then your first course of action should be to see a doctor and take with you your dental adhesive bonding cream or strips.