updated 8/1/2005 9:30:41 AM ET 2005-08-01T13:30:41

A Taiwanese man is breathing easier after a surgeon removed a missing set of dentures from one of his bronchial tubes — three years after he lost them in a fall.

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Surgeon Chen Chun-lei said the unidentified man visited his clinic several days ago complaining of shortness of breath and a high fever.

The man had no idea the missing denture was the culprit, causing a mild case of pneumonia.

“He had looked for the missing dentures for three years but they were nowhere to be found,” Chen said.

Chen operated after an X-ray detected an unknown object in one of his bronchial tubes — what turned out to be the missing denture.

Chen said the 45-year-old man did not suffer serious breathing problems earlier, possibly because the lower denture of eight teeth had stuck in part of the bronchial tube but did not entirely block the passage of air.

“The patient might have needed to have part of his lung removed if the denture was not located before it caused severe damage,” Chen said Monday. “He was a lucky man to find it when he did.”

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