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

Samuel J. W. Kent, James MacKie, Tatiana V. Macfarlane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
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Objectives: Dentures are worn by around 20% of the population, yet if they become displaced they may enter thegastrointestinal or respiratory system, sometimes with grave consequences. The aim of this study was to review recentpublished literature in order to identify the epidemiology of patients and characteristics of swallowed and aspirated dentalprostheses, 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, theanatomical 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 from28 countries. Average age was 55 years, and these were 74% male. Photographs were retrieved for 49 of these dentures. Claspswere present in 25 of the dentures. There was no significant difference between clasped and unclasped dentures for perforationrates, need for open surgery and spontaneously passed dentures.
Conclusions: We discuss the implications of this study regarding denture designs, specifically the importance of using aradiopaque acrylic, using clasps when required even if there is a risk of aspiration, advising patients to return if a dentureis loose or damaged, and finally that all patients who wear a denture are at risk of aspiration and swallowing events, andassociated morbidity and mortality
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere3
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Oral & Maxillofacial Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2016


  • deglutition
  • denture design
  • dentures
  • dental prosthesis design
  • respiratory aspiration


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