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a bmj logo cbAugust 11 2017

Excessive use of a dental fixative containing zinc has been deemed the likely cause of a man suffering numbness and muscle weakness in his legs. 

Investigations into the symptoms which had gone on for half a year detected copper deficiency myelopathy (CDM), neural damage in the spinal cord. Doctors have highlighted the case in BMJ Case Reports.

The copper deficiency is believed to have been due to zinc in the dental fixative interfering with copper absorption, due to the man having used “2-4 tubes of denture fixative that contained zinc every week for the past 15 years because of his ill-fitting false teeth.”

The symptoms were sufficient to prevent the man from leaving the house. The man was advised to stop using that type of dental fixative and was also given copper supplements. However, there was not a complete recovery and the man continued to experience some symptoms.

The doctors warn that “irreversible nerve damage may be a consequence of a delayed diagnosis of CDM.”

Links:
BMJ announcement
LS Carroll et al. ‘Zinc containing dental fixative causing copper deficiency myelopathy’. BMJ Case Reports 2017. Published online August 8 2017.

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