Long term use of denture cream products such as Poligrip and Fixodent may be associated with paralysis, numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, and other neurological issues, according to recent reports by manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline. Thirty-four million Americans rely on dentures to replace their missing teeth and some wearers have had difficulty with balance and walking. Once thought a “medical mystery” to doctors, these symptoms are now linked to their denture creams.
The authors of a 2008 study published in the Journal of Neurology concluded that long-term denture cream overuse was the culprit in the cases of four patients who had unexplained limb weakness and poor balance. “The patients were using at least two tubes of denture cream a week,” commented Dr. Sharon Nations, lead researcher and associate professor in the department of neurology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. “It was long exposure to very high amounts of denture cream that led to their problems,” concluded Dr. Nations.
According to an ABC report, the FDA currently does not require manufacturers to list the amount of zinc in their products, so the researchers tested the products themselves. According to the study, the zinc in the creams varied from 17 to 34 milligrams per gram of denture cream, significant amounts according to the researchers. Currently, the FDA is looking into this study and comparing the findings to complaints it is receiving about denture creams. But without a mandate from the FDA, the makers of Poligrip, Fixodent and other denture creams are unwilling to include warnings on their labels disclosing the potential for zinc poisoning.
GlaxoSmithKline originally denied these claims and said “Our products are safe and effective for daily, long-term use when used as directed. Representatives of Fixodent products, manufactured by Proctor and Gamble, also say that their products are safe for consumers. “All Fixodent products undergo rigorous scientific evaluations and safety testing…are products are made, packaged and labeled in accord with FDA manufacturing practices.”
However, GlaxoSmithKline announced in February of this year that it will voluntarily stop manufacturing, marketing and advertising three zinc-containing Super PoliGrip denture cream products and reformulate Super PoliGrip ‘Original,’ Super PoliGrip ‘Ultra Fresh’ and Super PoliGrip ‘Extra Care’ to non-zinc formulations which should be available in stores this April 2010. The company also issued a safety alert to consumers regarding the potential health risks associated with long-term use of its creams.
Symptoms of zinc toxicity are unexplained tingling in the arms, legs, hands and feet, burning sensation, numbness, balance difficulties, lack of coordination, unexplained pain, and weakness. Other effects of high zinc consumption are nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, abdominal cramps and diarrhea.
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms and are currently using denture creams that may contain zinc, you are advised to stop using the product and consult with a physician immediately.