The main ingredient in most denture creams available today are adhesive-based substances such as polymethyl vinyl (PVM), and sodium carboxymethylcellulose (CMC). Small pea sized amounts of the denture cream are placed on the fitting surface of the dentures. Once in the mouth, the water in the saliva causes the cream to swell, creating a form fitting bond between the dentures and gums that helps keep them in place and provides stability.
If you find your child with a tube of denture cream, do not panic. Take the tube away from them, wipe out the mouth with a soft, wet cloth and give them some water to drink. If problems start or you have questions, call the Missouri Poison Center right away at 1-800-222-1222. The poison center is open all day, every day for poisoning emergencies and questions.
Special note: In the 1980’s zinc was added to dental creams to provide even greater bonding of the denture to the gums. In the 1990’s there were a number of zinc poisoning cases reported. Eventually it was discovered that the poisoned patients had not only been using zinc containing dental creams, but using excessive amounts, ~ 2-3 tubes per week. Symptoms of zinc poisoning include damage to the nerves that control breathing, swallowing and movement of the arms/legs, and anemia.
In order to avoid zinc toxicity, best practice is to be aware and avoid any denture creams that contain zinc. Although zinc containing creams are still available, by and large most products now are zinc-free. Regardless of the ingredient in the denture cream, in order to avoid any poisoning, users should:
- Follow the instructions on the label – pay close attention to the amount recommended and do not use more.
- Even if your dentures do not fit properly, do not apply more adhesive than recommended. It is best to follow up with your health care provider to identify the reason they are not fitting properly.
- Put the product up and out of reach of children after use.