Swallowed Dentures

An Analysis of Denture Impaction Events in Pennsylvania

  • Elizabeth Kukielka, PharmD, MA, RPH Patient Safety Authority
  • Rebecca Jones, MBA, RN Patient Safety Authority
Keywords: choking, denture, denture impaction, edentulism, intubation, swallowed dentures, delayed diagnosis

Abstract

Tooth loss is a prevalent health concern affecting two-thirds of the geriatric population in the United States. Most patients replace missing teeth with dentures, which have the potential to become dislodged, swallowed, and stuck somewhere along the gastrointestinal tract (termed denture impaction). We queried the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Reporting System (PA-PSRS) and identified 68 denture impaction events reported from 2004 to 2019. An in-depth analysis revealed that patients were most often male, and the median patient age was 77 years. The most common symptoms reported by patients with denture impaction included difficult and/or painful swallowing, breathing trouble or respiratory distress, sore throat, foreign body sensation in the throat, throat obstruction preventing insertion of a tube or scope, choking, excessively thick and/or bloody oral secretions, and vomiting or regurgitation of food. The pharynx was the most common site of denture impaction, and x-ray imaging was the most common diagnostic test mentioned. The most common method of removal was surgery, and the most common surgical procedures employed were esophagogastroduodenoscopy and laryngoscopy. We believe that we have identified a category of den­ture impaction events that has not previously been characterized. Our study, coupled with the existing medical literature, suggests that all patients, along with their caregivers and healthcare providers, should be aware of the proactive steps to avoid denture impaction, as well as signs and symptoms of impaction for early identification and treatment.

Author Biographies

Elizabeth Kukielka, PharmD, MA, RPH, Patient Safety Authority

Elizabeth Kukielka (ekukielka@pa.gov) is a patient safety analyst on the Data Science and Research team at the Patient Safety Authority. Before joining the PSA, she was a promotional medical writer for numerous publications, including Pharmacy Times and The American Journal of Managed Care. Kukielka also worked for a decade as a community pharmacist and pharmacy manager, with expertise in immunization delivery, diabetes management, medication therapy management, and pharmacy compounding.

Rebecca Jones, MBA, RN, Patient Safety Authority

Rebecca Jones is director of Data Science and Research at the Patient Safety Authority, where she also founded and serves as director of the Center of Excellence for Improving Diagnosis. Her previous roles at the PSA include director of Innovation and Strategic Partnerships, and regional patient safety liaison. Before joining the PSA, Jones served in various roles leading patient safety efforts and proactively managing risk in healthcare organizations. She currently is chair of the Practice Committee of the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine and serves on the Advisory Committee of the Coalition to Improve Diagnosis.

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Dentures in a glass on a purple background.
Published
2020-06-17
How to Cite
Kukielka, E., & Jones, R. (2020). Swallowed Dentures: An Analysis of Denture Impaction Events in Pennsylvania. Patient Safety , 2(2), 11. https://doi.org/10.33940/data/2020.6.7
Section
Original Research and Articles
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