Another reason to fear dentists: swallowed dental instruments.

By Seriously Science | May 12, 2014 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/Betsssssy

Photo: flickr/Betsssssy

There’s no other paper we’ve featured that deserves the “Health issues I wish I didn’t know about” tag more than this one. Not that there aren’t more disgusting medical case studies out there. Rather, this one makes an already-feared health appointment that much worse. This article summarizes five cases in which patients swallowed dental protheses and instruments. Needless to say, some of these events did not end well. The recommendations of the doctors? If you swallow a dental instrument, the dentist should try to get it out. And if that fails? Don’t ignore it — go to the hospital!

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

“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.”

Related content:
NCBI ROFL: Snakes vs. dentist: pick your poison.
How to store your broken tooth until you get to the dentist.
A new thing to fear: “intranasal teeth”.

  • Uncle Al

    Attach a sterilized string to all objects placed within or in proximity to the buccal mucosa. Put some blood into that with Federal regulation and quarterly inspection of all practitioners including aides and technicians. Studies must be done regarding the meaning of “proximity” and the allowable error tolerances thereof, distances and allowable angles from the vertical.

  • Alexander Johannesen

    Back in October I had a problem tooth that I chose to pull. It was in the upper jaw to the right, and as all ignorant citizens when the doctor informs you of some risk, you just say yes, get the damn thing out, it hurts!

    And so he did. And then after a fairly grueling vertical kerfuffle the dentist pulled back a bit, and said; “Breath through your nose”, whilst putting his fingers over my nose, blocking all air supply. I didn’t get it, but he repeated to breathe through my nose. And then I did.

    I really did, but in the most crazy way possible! The air didn’t come through my nostrils, but through my friggin’ upper jaw gums! He’d punctured a hole from the crater of my previous tooth and into my sinus on the right hand side. It cannot be expressed properly the weird feeling of breathing through your gums, but there it was. The dentists also thought there might possibly maybe just a smidgen of broken tooth gone through that hole, and I was referred to a specialist just to make sure.

    The specialist revealed a whole root of the tooth stuck in the upper part of my sinus, and an expensive operation three months later with scar tissue up my inside gums later. In fact, the surgeon wanted me to have the root afterwards; it’s the biggest thing he had ever pulled out of a sinus. I win!

    So, um, yeah. Be careful with pulling upper jaw molars.


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Seriously, Science?, formerly known as NCBI ROFL, is the brainchild of two prone-to-distraction biologists. We highlight the funniest, oddest, and just plain craziest research from the PubMed research database and beyond. Because nobody said serious science couldn't be silly!
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