Prevent a Dental Malpractice Suit From Swallowed Objects | Dental Professional Liability Insurance | Professional Protector Plan for Dentists

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Prevent a Dental Malpractice Suit From Swallowed Objects

Foreign objects that disappear down the oropharynx may represent a significant health hazard as well as a malpractice risk. Prompt, appropriate action,coupled with good documentation, is essential in this situation.

Tampa, FL (PRWEB) January 30, 2015

Good dental risk management can prevent or minimize some malpractice claims and provide a better defense for the others.
There are a number of clinical techniques that can be used to minimize the chance that an object will be ingested or aspirated during treatment.
They include:

  • Rubber dam — arguably the best preventive device; however, it is not always possible or practical to use
  • Pharyngeal gauze block
  • High velocity evacuator — to remove tooth and restoration fragments
  • Dental floss — tied to rubber dam clamps and other small instruments; tied around bridges
  • More upright chair position
  • Modified patient head position — turn the patient’s head toward the side of treatment, allowing objects or debris to fall onto the buccal mucosa or into the buccal vestibule

Other preventive steps include good patient communication and proper staff training.


  • Warn patients that temporary crowns can loosen and unseat.
  • Provide written home care instructions to patients who have received a temporary crown.
  • Develop an action plan to respond to in-office swallowed and aspirated object incidents and train your staff on its implementation. A recent Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) article proposes an office protocol.
  • Train all office personnel in basic life support, including the Heimlich maneuver.Remember to contact your malpractice insurance agent in a timely manner to report the swallowed or aspirated object incident.



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