Foreign body aspiration is a serious problem that may lead to complications or even death. People who sustain major maxillofacial trauma can often damage their teeth or oral prostheses, and aspiration can occur. Detection of this type of aspiration can be difficult, especially in elderly people wearing dental appliances, since many dental prostheses are not radiopaque and the aspiration is not always recognized at the time of injury. We report a specific case of extensive maxillofacial trauma from a self-inflicted gunshot wound leading to aspiration of large, radiolucent denture fragments, delayed diagnosis, and complications. The possibility of denture fragment aspiration must always be part of the differential diagnosis in an elderly trauma patient presenting with dyspnea, hypoxia or, eventually, pneumonia. This is especially so when radiologic evaluation does not reveal a foreign body, since much dental prosthesis material is radiolucent. Delayed complications of radiolucent dental prosthesis aspiration could be avoided by the inclusion of some radiopaque material within the acrylic material of the prosthesis.
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