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Dental products raise concern about zinc toxicity

By Kathleen Blanchard     Mar 6, 2011 in Health
Dental experts warn of zinc toxicity that might innocently occur for overuse of dental products. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea and neurological impairment in addition to lower testosterone levels.
In a review by Amar Patel, DDS, resident and colleagues at the University of Maryland Dental School in the March/April 2011 issue of the journal General Dentistry, the scientists found dental patients are exposed to zinc from a variety of sources that include restorative materials, mouthwashes, toothpastes and denture adhesives.
Zinc has been studied for its role in promoting healthy immunity and is important for cellular metabolism. Deficiencies of the essential mineral can stunt growth, delay sexual maturation, lead to poor appetite, hair loss and poor wound healing. Conversely, too much zinc can be toxic and has become a recent concern among dental professionals.
Dr. Patel says, "Of direct concern to dental professionals ... has been the recent discovery of neurologic disorders resulting from excessive use of denture adhesives, having high leachable zinc contents which can cause copper deficiencies."
Dr. Patel has written the paper, "What Every Dentist Should Know About Zinc" to warn dental professionals about the potential hazards.
The researchers explain zinc and copper compete for absorption in the gastrointestinal tract. Copper deficiency can cause lower levels of of infection fighting white blood cells called neutrophils, known as neutropenia.
Nasir Bashirelahi, PhD, a professor with the Maryland Dental School says zinc..."is used in dental products abundantly, especially denture adhesives or pastes. Suddenly this issue is very important for the dental profession, with many practical applications."
Worldwide, zinc deficiency is more of a problem than excessive intake, but Bashirelahi who lectures dental professionals says "People are living longer these days and want to stay healthy for as long as possible." He notes some people may want to get away from adhesive dentures and opt for more expensive dental implants or seek zinc free denture adhesives.
The authors also write in the news release that it is important for dentists to be aware of the potential for zinc toxicity from dental products because of the legal ramifications associated with ignoring the potential for patient exposure to high levels.
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