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DENTAL HYGIENISTS CAN HELP FIGHT ZINC TOXICITY

  DENTAL HYGIENISTS CAN HELP FIGHT ZINC TOXICITY Dental patients who wear poor fitting dentures may be tempted to use dental adhesives to keep the prosthesis in place. Doing so, however, can jeopardize that patient’s systemic health, according to a

 

DENTAL HYGIENISTS CAN HELP FIGHT ZINC TOXICITY

Dental patients who wear poor-fitting dentures may be

tempted to use dental adhesives to keep the prosthesis in place. Doing so,

however, can jeopardize that patient’s systemic health, according to a paper

that links excessive use of denture adhesives to neurologic disorder. The

potential threat has also caught the attention of the U.S. Food and Drug

Administration (FDA), which less than a month ago issued a notice urging dental

adhesive manufacturers to revise labeling practices and eliminate potentially

harmful ingredients from these products. 

Zinc contained in some adhesives is driving concern over possible

harm resulting from overuse of the products. Ingested at toxic levels, zinc can

trigger nausea, stomachache and mouth irritation. An article in the March/April

issue of General Dentistry titled,

“What Every Dentist Should Know About Zinc,” outlines the risk patients face

and the damage overuse can cause. The article connects excessive zinc intake with

insufficient levels of copper, low levels of white blood cells and

copper-deficient anemia, which could trigger neurologic disease. 

FDA WARNS MANUFACTURERS 

In a February 23 report, the FDA noted it had reviewed research data that pointed to a relationship between zinc used in dental adhesives and “adverse events.” The agency responded by issuing a Notice and Recommended Action to denture adhesive manufacturers in which it cited inadequate product labeling and low consumer awareness as possible contributors to the zinc-related events. A strong recommendation was made to dental adhesives manufacturers to re-evaluate their labeling practices, and to replace zinc with an ingredient that, if overused, presents less of a health risk.

 
HOW DENTAL HYGIENISTS CAN HELP
 

Hygiene Connection was advised by Academy of General Dentistry spokesperson Manuel A. Cordero, DDS, MAGD, that dental hygienists can help protect patients against excess zinc intake. One measure Cordero recommends is for dental hygienists to encourage patients to be evaluated by a dentist every 6 months to ensure a proper fit of the denture. Dental hygienists should also explain to patients that a dentist might have to adjust the denture, reline it, or possibly remake the prosthesis.

Cordero explains there are visual symptoms related to chronically ill-fitting dentures. Excessive keratinized tissue, erythematous tissue, callous formation on the ridges, or Epulis fissuratum are signs that should lead a dental hygienist to question the fit of a denture or prostheses. “If these abnormalities are not corrected, it could result in patients abusing denture adhesive,” Cordero notes.

Zinc toxicity does not need to occur if all issues related to patient care are properly addressed. Dental hygienists are also advised to inquire about a possible history of digestive-related irregularities. “A good health history and conversation with the patient are essential in a thorough and complete oral evaluation,” Cordero says. “These findings should then be shared with a treating or consulting dentist.”

In the aftermath of the clamor and FDA notice, at least one manufacturer has moved to reduce or eliminate the possibility of its products causing adverse events among denture wearers. In February, GlaxoSmithKline announced from London it was taking voluntary action to end the manufacture of its zinc-containing denture adhesives. The company stated it would transition to zinc-free versions, and that “zinc free” would be clearly stated on new packaging.

 

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