WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Procter and Gamble is facing a lawsuit from consumers who say they suffered nerve damage from zinc in Fixodent.
A local doctor has found the same issues with the denture cream.
Dr. Susan Torres has been practicing neurology in Wilmington for nearly 20 years. A few years ago, a patient came into her office complaining of pain and weakness in his legs. After a series of tests, Dr. Torres realized the denture cream that was holding his teeth in place was also keeping his legs from moving.
"He had been totally disabled, was in a wheel chair. He's now able to walk again," said Dr. Torres.
For confidentiality purposes, she could not release the patient's name... but shared his story with me. He lost over 100 pounds after having gastric bypass surgery, and his old dentures were just too big. "He started using huge amounts of Fixodent, up to a tube every couple of days to hold his dentures in."
At first, Dr. Torres thought a B12 deficiency was causing the neuropathy, or nerve damage, and treated him for that. His symptoms worsened and began affecting his spinal cord and the pigment in his hair. All the while, he continued using the Fixodent. After testing his hair, Dr. Torres found that his copper levels were extremely low, and his zinc levels were extremely high. She pieced the puzzle together and realized the overwhelming amount of Fixodent was the problem.
The denture cream contains zinc, which replaces copper in the body, and copper is vital to the nervous system. Without it, nerves begin to die, causing numbness, burning, pain, weakness, and eventually moving to the spinal cord.
"To tell the truth, if a family member of mine asked me if they should use it to keep their dentures in, I would say no. I would look for some other way to keep the dentures in,” said Torres.
The man stopped using Fixodent, started taking copper supplements, and is now doing well.
The tube does have a warning that reads: "some reports suggest that excessive and prolonged zinc intake may be linked to adverse health effects." But Procter and Gamble stand by their claim that it is safe when used as directed, in small doses.