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A Closer Look at Zinc Poisoning from Denture Cream

Friday, April 03, 2009 by: Cathy Sherman
Tags: denture cream, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) The growing threats of lawsuits against denture cream manufacturers over zinc poisoning might raise concerns about zinc itself. Though zinc is the mineral involved as a cementing agent, it is critical to keep in mind that it is the misuse and overuse of zinc that is responsible, not the qualities of the mineral itself. Zinc, a trace mineral, is one nutrient that consumers need to better understand as its notoriety increases.

A trace mineral is one which the body needs, but in relatively smaller quantities. Besides zinc, essential trace minerals include, but are not limited to, iodine, iron, manganese, selenium and silicon. Though Americans tend to be deficient in trace minerals such as these, a few can be harmful if too much is ingested. It seems to be in their use as supplements or pharmaceuticals that zinc, iron and iodine become harmful, since it is difficult to take in dangerously high levels from diet alone.

Zinc, a bluish-white chemical element, is used in medicine in the form of various salts and as a component in some silver amalgams and several pharmaceuticals. Other names include zinc sulfate, zinc gluconate, zinc citrate, zinc picolinate, or chelated zinc. The compound zinc oxide is used topically to protect the skin (as in sunscreen) and as a cementing agent.

Its benefits to the body include: aid to growth and mental development; development of bones; aid to metabolism; wound-healing; aid to sense of taste and smell; immune system aid; healthy skin; blood sugar control; catalytic activity of about 100 enzymes, including those of the pancreas; protein and DNA synthesis; collagen formation; cell division; healthy reproductive organs; healthy prostate;
healthy appetite; and eye health, possibly due to its help in maintenance of vitamin E levels in the blood and in the absorption of vitamin A.

Deficiencies in zinc can result in problems with the above processes and/or their development, plus acne, pneumonia, diarrhea, delayed puberty, rough skin, weight loss, and dwarfism.

If deficiency is a problem, the cause could be phytic acid. Phosphorus is bound in this organic acid which is found in the outer layer of grain - the bran. It can bind with copper, magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc to block their absorption. Soaking of whole grains for seven hours in warm acidulated water allows enzymes and other helpful organisms to break down the phytic acid. Thus it becomes
neutralized, allowing the mineral absorption to occur.

On the other hand, too much zinc can be poisonous, causing neuropathy, ataxia, lethargy, copper deficiency, anemia, paralysis, and bone marrow problems.

RDA's vary from eight (female) to eleven (males) to 50 mgs a day. Over 100 is excessive, and negative effects have occurred with daily intakes of 150 or more.

It is interesting to note that deficiencies have mostly been found in the elderly, especially when dietary intake is poor. Yet, at the same time, it is mostly the older adult who use dentures and denture creams. Studies have noted that not only is there a high level of zinc in the cream, but study subjects were using six to twenty times the recommended amount of cream every week.

Such a high dosage is bound to cause problems.

The FDA made this statement to WFAA-TV in Dallas in regard to one of the lawsuits:
"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates denture adhesives, which are medical devices under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. A denture adhesive is a device intended to be applied to the base of a denture before the denture is inserted in a patient's mouth to improve denture retention and comfort. FDA has classified this product as a low-risk device (class I).

"While manufacturers are not required to submit marketing applications to FDA for most class I devices, they still must register and list a class I device with the agency and comply with other applicable FDA requirements. These requirements include adverse event reporting, manufacturing controls, and labeling that is neither false nor misleading.

"FDA monitors adverse events from medical devices through mandatory and voluntary reporting systems. Manufacturers and hospitals are required by law to report deaths and serious injuries. Manufacturers also must report malfunctions that could result in death or serious injury. FDA reviews reports submitted to the agency and has authority to take immediate action, when warranted, to protect public health.

"Consumers can report problems experienced with any product to FDA either by phone (800-FDA-1088), fax (800-FDA-0178), online (www.fda.gov) or mail (MedWatch, The FDA Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program, FDA, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20852)."

One of the claims made in the lawsuits is that the manufacturer failed to print a warning on the label about potential zinc poisoning, and in fact, some of the products do not even list zinc as an ingredient.

In the WFAA-TV story, the manufacturer stated that vast majority of the zinc is not absorbed in the mouth, but remains in the adhesive. They state that the small amount of zinc which enters the body is swallowed and then becomes absorbed into the blood from the stomach. The company goes on to say that since zinc is a nutrient found in many foods, it is normal to be in the body and there should be no health hazard from using their dental cream.

This is contradictory to what scientists know about physiology. Doctors say that the mouth and gums are areas where chemicals are absorbed better than anywhere else in the body. After all, the mouth is an extremely moist area, and it is moisture that facilitates the absorption. Furthermore, just because a mineral is normally present in the body does not mean it doesn't pose a health hazard. As was previously stated, some nutrients can be detrimental in large quantity.

For those who wear dentures and use the adhesives, it would be well to note the recommended amount to use and make sure not to exceed that amount. It's important to note the drugs containing zinc: diuretic medications, fluoroquinolones, penicillamine, and tetracyclines. Pregnant and nursing women also need to use zinc carefully, as both too much and too little can harm the fetus.

As with iron supplementation, when using zinc supplements it's necessary to be vigilant in keeping track of the amount ingested. Temporary addition of zinc to the diet for help in fighting off sore throats and colds should be fine.


St. James, Janet; "More Claims of Denture Cream Poisoning", May 23, 2007.

Fallon, Sally with Enig, Mary G., PhD. Nourishing Traditions, the Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats, 1999, 2001, New Trends Publishing Inc.





About the author

Cathy Sherman is a freelance writer with a major interest in natural health and in encouraging others to take responsibility for their health. She can be reached through www.devardoc.com.

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