Denture Cream Lawyer

Over 35 million Americans use denture creams on a regular basis to secure their dentures and other prophylactic dental appliances. Two of the most popular denture creams — Proctor & Gamble’s Fixodent and GlaxoSmithKline’s Poligrip — have traditionally used large amounts of zinc in their formulation to increase the cream’s adhesive properties.

Zinc is a trace mineral that poses no threat to the human body, but too much zinc can cause a variety of devastating symptoms, including peripheral neuropathies, copper deficiencies, bone marrow suppression, and degeneration of the spinal cord. Acute zinc overdose can even be fatal.

If you or a loved one has suffered zinc poisoning through your use of a denture cream product, a denture cream attorney can help you review your legal rights and inform you more about your options for filing a claim that can result in compensation for pain, suffering, lost wages, and medical bills.

Dental Creams and Zinc Poisoning

For many years, physicians had been mystified by elderly patients who displayed difficulties walking. These instances of spastic gait were related to seemingly idiopathic neuropathies.

In the year 2000, researchers began to associate these neuropathies with low serum levels of copper. Copper deficiencies are a known side effect of zinc overdose, but these patients had no excessive dietary sources of zinc and researchers remained puzzled.

Then in 2007, an Italian physician named Marco Spinazzi published an article in the medical journal “Neurology” positing a link between copper deficiencies, elevated zinc levels, and the use of denture cream.

In 2008, research scientists working at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center identified four patients whose source of zinc was clearly the denture cream that they had been using. These findings were also published in the medical journal “Neurology.” Other researchers have since backed up this discovery with similar findings. A patient in Georgia actually died from a zinc overdose linked to the use of dental adhesives.

The patients most susceptible to zinc poisoning are those patients with poorly fitting dentures. These patients typically use large amounts of dental creams to ensure that their dentures fit securely.

While it is true that manufacturers’ guidelines recommend using a single tube of denture adhesive once every six to eight weeks, patients with poorly fitting dentures use far more adhesive. Some of the patients who suffered nerve damage were using two or three tubes of dental cream every week.

Symptoms of Zinc Poisoning

Zinc is an essential trace element that helps strengthen the immune system and heal skin rashes and wounds. Excess quantities of zinc, however, can lead to debilitating symptoms, such as:

  • tingling and numbness in the hands and feet
  • muscle weakness
  • loss of balance
  • paralysis
  • even death

For many years, doctors were seeing outbreaks of such symptoms among elderly patients without realizing that the symptoms were indicative of zinc toxicity.

History of Zinc Use in Dental Creams

Proctor & Gamble began adding zinc to its bestselling denture adhesive Fixodent in 1990. Fixodent contains approximately 17 milligrams of zinc per gram.

In 1996, the Block Drug Company began adding zinc to its Super Poligrip dental adhesive. In 2001, the Block Drug Company was acquired by GlaxoSmithKline, which continued to use the zinc formulation in the manufacture of Super Poligrip. In 2003, GlaxoSmithKline began adding zinc to a related product called Super Poligrip Free.

Dental Cream Lawsuits

In 2005, the FDA began receiving reports of adverse events involving zinc poisoning related to the use of Poligrip products. The following year, GlaxoSmithKline settled two lawsuits related to zinc poisoning and its dental adhesive out of court, and removed zinc from the formula of Super Poligrip Free.

By 2009, many dental cream users who had suffered zinc overdoses had begun filing lawsuits against GlaxoSmithKline and Procter & Gamble. Currently, these lawsuits are limited to seeking compensation for zinc poisoning, copper deficiencies, and peripheral neuropathies. The FDA continues to regulate denture cream as a class 1 medical device with low risks.

GlaxoSmithKline has paid more than $120 million in settlements to date in order to resolve litigation brought against the company by users of its Poligrip denture cream products who suffered neurological problems. Proctor & Gamble, however, has refrained from settling with users of its Fixodent product.

In May 2010, GlaxoSmithKline discontinued the use of zinc in any of its Poligrip products. Before this time, there were 34 milligrams of zinc per gram in the original Poligrip formulation and 27.5 milligrams of zinc per gram in the Polyseal formulation. Fixodent continues to use zinc.

A denture cream lawyer will know the history of these types of lawsuits, as well as the unique circumstances surrounding them, and can provide a comprehensive analysis to help determine whether or not filing a claim is the right decision for you.

How A Denture Cream Lawyer Can Help

Dental cream manufacturers claim that their products are safe for use as directed. Evidence exists, however, that manufacturers are well aware that many consumers use much more dental cream than package instructions call for. The manufacturers have an obligation to warn consumers explicitly about the potential risks of using more than the recommended amount of dental cream.

A denture cream lawyer can help you determine whether legal action is in your best interests if you are a denture adhesive cream user who has experienced zinc toxicity or a related problem. The personal injury team at our firm can help you decide whether you want to move forward with a claim and refer you to a well-qualified attorney.