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Case study prompts questions on denture creams

The ADA has received calls from members concerned about what to tell patients regarding the safety of denture creams.

The calls came on the heels of a recent "Good Morning America" story and television commercials seeking plaintiffs for a potential lawsuit against manufacturers of the products Fixodent and Poli-Grip denture creams. If a lawsuit is filed, the plaintiffs will likely claim that the zinc these particular creams contain as an ingredient caused them to experience hypocupremia-(copper insuffiency) induced neuropathy.

The issue has apparently arisen because of a case study titled Denture Cream: An Unusual Source of Excess Zinc, Leading to Hypocupremia and Neurologic Disease, which was published in the June 4, 2008, issue of Neurology, the official journal of the American Academy of Neurology. The study reviewed the case histories of four denture-wearers who exhibited neurological problems. These individuals reported that for years they had used two or more tubes of denture cream adhesive per week, although the manufacturers' directions indicate that a single tube should last up to 10 weeks.

The authors posit that the four denture-wearers consumed significant amounts of zinc from the excess denture cream they presumably swallowed over a prolonged period. The authors then hypothesize that the four individuals' symptoms are attributable to their consumption of zinc from that source and conclude that the creams, when used in excess, "may result in hypocupremia and serious neurological disease."

The ADA has issued a statement that the Association is "not aware of any reports of neurological problems resulting from use of a denture cream following the manufacturer's instructions, nor indeed of any other reports of neurological or other health problems related to the use of denture cream products under any conditions."

To date, the FDA has not issued any advisory to the public or the profession on this issue.

The ADA Division of Science will be looking out for any additional information that might come out on this topic and recommends that dental professionals remind patients to follow the directions on the label when using these products. For more information on denture adherents and other consumer products with the ADA Seal of Acceptance visit "www.ada.org/ada/seal/category.asp".

In separate but unrelated denture news, the Food and Drug Administration posted a Public Health Notification in March 2008 for health professionals on its Web site regarding possible allergic reactions from denture cleansers.

The PHN says the reactions—which include irritation, tissue pain, gum tenderness and respiratory conditions—can occur soon after the patient begins using the product or after years of use. All FDA safety alerts relevant to dentistry are posted on ADA.org. To access the one on denture cleansers, visit www.ada.org.

For more information, contact the ADA Division of Science at the toll-free number, Ext. 2878, or e-mail science@ada.org.