Designing for Safety: Implications of a Fifteen Year Review of Swallowed and Aspirated Dentures

Samuel J W Kent, James Mackie, Tatiana V Macfarlane

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OBJECTIVES: Dentures are worn by around 20% of the population, yet if they become displaced they may enter the gastrointestinal or respiratory system, sometimes with grave consequences. The aim of this study was to review recent published literature in order to identify the epidemiology of patients and characteristics of swallowed and aspirated dental prostheses, and propose strategies to minimise these risks.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: A fifteen year retrospective of published case series and case reports was carried out. Photographs, radiographs and descriptions of the dental prostheses were gathered, as well as the patient's presenting complaint, the anatomical site where the denture was caught and the procedure required to remove the denture.

RESULTS: Ninety one separate events of swallowed or aspirated dentures were identified from 83 case reports and series from 28 countries. Average age was 55 years, and these were 74% male. Photographs were retrieved for 49 of these dentures. Clasps were present in 25 of the dentures. There was no significant difference between clasped and unclasped dentures for perforation rates, need for open surgery and spontaneously passed dentures.

CONCLUSIONS: We discuss the implications of this study regarding denture designs, specifically the importance of using a radiopaque acrylic, using clasps when required even if there is a risk of aspiration, advising patients to return if a denture is loose or damaged, and finally that all patients who wear a denture are at risk of aspiration and swallowing events, and associated morbidity and mortality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e3
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Oral and Maxillofacial Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 5 Aug 2016


  • Journal Article
  • Review


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