Swallowed and aspirated dental prostheses and instruments in clinical dental practice: a report of five cases and a proposed management algorithm

J Am Dent Assoc. 2014 May;145(5):459-63. doi: 10.14219/jada.2013.55.


Background: Accidental swallowing or aspiration of dental instruments and prostheses is a complication of dental procedures. Failure to manage these complications appropriately can lead to significant morbidity and possibly death.

Case description: The authors present three cases of accidental swallowing of dental instruments during procedures and two cases of aspiration, one during a procedure and one long after the procedure. Although three of these five cases of foreign-body aspiration or ingestion were caught early and the patients were referred for endoscopic retrieval, two patients experienced prolonged symptoms that affected their quality of life before intervention occurred. Practical Implications The authors reviewed the literature and propose an evidence-based algorithm for management of such complications. Adherence to the proposed algorithm may decrease morbidity and mortality and improve patient outcomes.

Keywords: Accidental; algorithm; aspiration; dental instrument; endoscopy; ingestion; prosthesis.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Algorithms
  • Bronchi
  • Crowns / adverse effects
  • Deglutition*
  • Dental Instruments / adverse effects
  • Dental Prosthesis / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Foreign Bodies / diagnostic imaging
  • Foreign Bodies / etiology*
  • Foreign Bodies / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Ileocecal Valve
  • Lung
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiography
  • Respiratory Aspiration / complications
  • Respiratory Aspiration / etiology*
  • Stomach