Can Denture Adhesive Be Harmful If Swallowed?

Denture adhesive makes life easier for denture wearers by keeping dentures in place and minimizing problems with food particles under the denture. While some studies may raise questions about the safety of these products, the Food and Drug Administration's approval of them stands. The products do not carry warning labels.

  1. Function

    • Use denture adhesive to strengthen the bond between denture and gum. Do not expect the adhesive to "fix" a poorly fitting denture.

      Dental-Professional.com suggests, "Adhesives are a useful aid to denture retention and stability for all patients. They are particularly useful for patients with special needs e.g. poor neuromuscular control or dementia, but can offer advantages to all denture wearers."

      Proper bonding between dentures and gums reduces the amount of food that can get under the denture, and increases confidence in the wearer.

    Significance

    • A 2008 report by the American Academy of Neurology cited four cases that seemed to implicate denture adhesives as sources of inappropriate amounts of zinc intake. Other reports followed, such as an ABC News report in May 2009, suggesting zinc ingested through swallowed denture adhesive caused neurological problems in a small portion of the population.

      Add to the reports the numerous attorney ads on the Internet offering their services against denture adhesive companies and the question of whether or not adhesives are dangerous gains in status.

    Considerations

    • Zinc is not inherently poisonous, but is a necessary requirement for many cellular functions. The National Institute of Health sets the recommended dietary allowance for zinc at 11 mg per day for adult males and 8 mg for adult females (increasing to 11 to 12 mg for lactating or pregnant women). The human body does not have a specialized mechanism to store zinc, according to NIH.

    Warning

    • Use the smallest amount possible when applying denture adhesives. Follow the manufacturer's guidelines. If the adhesive oozes when you insert the dentures or bite down, you have used too much.

      See your dental care professional regularly. Dentures wear out and mouth structure changes over time. Do not try to compensate for changes with excessive denture adhesive.

    Prevention/Solution

    • Expect a tube of denture paste to last as long as ten weeks, according to the ABC news report. Minimal use of the adhesive results in minimal chance of zinc overdose.

      Avoid deliberately swallowing the adhesive. Some minor ingestion is unavoidable as saliva dissolves adhesive over time.

      Remove adhesive from dentures at the end of the day. Do not sleep with denture adhesive in your mouth.

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  • Photo Credit Mary Beth Magee

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