A 72-year-old British man lost his dentures — doctors found them lodged in his throat 8 days later
A British man who lost his dentures for more than a week finally found them — with help from some doctors and X-ray machines.
The unnamed man, described as a 72-year-old retired electrician, went to the emergency room because he was having difficulty swallowing and was coughing up blood, according to an article in the BMJ, a U.K.-based medical journal.
Apparently, the man had also undergone surgery the week before, during which he believed his dentures had fallen out of his mouth. It turned out the two incidents were related. But, it took the doctors a while to figure that out.
First, physicians gave the man an X-ray, diagnosed him with pneumonia and sent him home. Then, when the man returned two days later — a full eight days after losing his dentures — doctors finally discovered the culprit.
The hospital performed more X-rays and found what doctors described as "a metallic semicircular object" lodged in the man's throat. That object? The mysterious missing dentures.
The man had been under anesthesia during his surgery, and it's unclear exactly how the teeth got dislodged. It's not the first time something like this has happened though. In fact, The BMJ article cited 12 prior cases of dentures getting stuck inside patients' throats.
The BMJ article noted that this issue may be related to a lack of rules around conducting surgery on patients with dentures.
"There are no set national guidelines on how dentures should be managed during anesthesia," the article concluded. "But it is known that leaving dentures in during bag-mask ventilation allows for a better seal during induction, and therefore, many hospitals allow dentures to be removed immediately before intubation, as long as this is clearly documented."
Dr. Rui Amaral Mendes, an associate editor for the BMJ, told NBC that patients should always tell their physicians about any mouth problems they may have. That includes dentures, but also blisters, gum disease and loose teeth.
"Stay on the safe side," Mendes said. "Inform your physician of what's going on in your mouth."