Denture Paste Poisoning?
Janet St. James reports
IRVING - Sherry Mosley says hugging her niece actually hurts.
"Muscles hurt in my legs, my back," she said. "I've had burning in my back. The skin feels sunburned, and that's been going on for years and years."
Mosley was diagnosed with dozens of conditions that could cause that type of painful nerve damage called neuropathy. However, it wasn't until seeing a News 8 report last year that Mosley said she learned the truth.
"It's zinc in Fixodent that caused it," she said. "There's nothing else that could have caused it."
Zinc is an important bonding agent used in two major brands of denture adhesive - Poligrip and Fixodent. Doctors say the ingredient can seep into the body through the gums or when swallowed.
Several studies now, including one printed in the peer-reviewed medical journal Neurology, link denture paste to toxic buildups of zinc.
Mosley has worn the same set of dentures for 20 years. She has used the same pink denture cream several times daily.
"A tube like that a week, almost," she said.
"She asked for testing for copper and zinc," said Dr. Ralph Cox, at Tiena Health in Las Colinas. "Zinc in particular as she had become aware of the fact that the dental adhesive that she had been using for many years contained zinc and she thought that might be causing her symptoms."
Dr. Cox said the medical tests confirmed abnormally high levels of zinc. A diagnosis that, at first, surprised him.
"It's led me to look at that for other possible patients who presented [me] with unusual or vague neuropathic symptoms," Dr. Cox said. "And I think it's probably potentially more widespread than we're aware of."
Fixodent, the product Sherry Mosley used, is made by Procter & Gamble.
In a statement to News 8, the company said the product is "safe" when used as directed.
They also stated that "the amount of zinc the average denture adhesive user would ingest from a daily usage ... is less than a daily multi-vitamin."
Denture adhesives are classified by the FDA as class 1 medical devices that don't alter the function or structure of the body. Class 1 medical devices are not required to list ingredients on the label.
Matthew Doyle, Procter & Gamble's director and senior researcher of Healthcare Research and Development Worldwide told News 8 that "zinc won't come out of the matrix of the denture cream for absorption."
But since News 8 began reporting on the potential medical problems, Procter & Gamble has updated some package labeling. The product's website now has a lengthy Q and A section on zinc.
Mosley said that's a start, but not enough.
"I really believe that there are a lot of people, poor people, that haven't been able to have dentures every three years like they suggest," she said. "All you can do is use this stuff, and then later find out that this stuff has caused so many problems and it's just not right."
She's the latest to file a lawsuit.
Procter & Gamble denies wrongdoing.
"Providing safe and effective products for consumer usage is Fixodent's number one priority. All Fixodent products undergo rigorous scientific evaluations and safety testing before appearing on shelf. We also continually monitor the safety of our products once in market. All Fixodent products meet all federal and local laws and regulations where sold and are manufactured, packaged, and labeled in accord with FDA manufacturing practices.
"A small amount of zinc is used in Fixodent denture adhesive to provide denture-hold. This helps the denture stay in place securely so our consumers can eat, chew, talk, etc. more confidently. Zinc is a common ingredient in many over-the-counter health care products and in a variety of foods, such as beef, seafood, poultry, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Fixodent contains ingredients that are generally recognized as safe in the amounts used. The amount of zinc an average denture adhesive user would ingest from daily usage of Fixodent is: less than the amount of zinc in most daily multi-vitamins and comparable to 6 ounces of ground beef."