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Multilingual Support:

Concerns

Causes

Prevention

Signs and symptoms

Action

Causes

  • object (tooth, root tip, removable or fixed prosthetic appliance. endodontic file, etc.) in posterior pharynx

Prevention

  • use of gauze throat screen or a rubber dam during procedure

Signs and symptoms

Aspirated object: partially to fully obstructed airway

  • choking
  • coughing or inability to cough
  • high-pitched wheezing
  • cyanosis
  • absence of air entry
  • asymmetrical chest movement

Swallowed object:

  • no immediate sign
  • most pass safely through the gastrointestinal tract and are passed in the feces
  • may develop vague sensation of something stuck in the center of the chestor epigastric region
  • drooling
  • gagging
  • vomiting
  • retching
  • inability to swallow fluids
  • neck and throat pain
  • may result in abdominal distention
  • rarely – gastrointestinal perforation

Action

  • determine if the foreign object was swallowed or aspirated
  • remain with the patient and monitor vital signs and symptoms
  • observe for respiratory distress (aspiration may be life threatening)
  • if aspirated with airway obstruction, activate EMS and provide oxygen
  • if there is a partial airway obstruction, encourage coughing
  • if there is complete airway obstruction, provide Heimlich maneuver and prepare for CPR
  • chest x-ray, CT scans, endoscopy, and other tests may be needed to identify the location of the object

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