Is Your Gagging Reflex Interfering With Your Dental Treatments?
Everyone has the gag reflex, which is a protective mechanism that prevents foreign objects from entering your throat and airway. Some people have an exaggerated gag reflex that makes it difficult or even impossible to get dental treatment. Dentists can use certain treatment strategies to help you get the dental care you need despite your problem.
What Causes an Exaggerated Gag Reflex?
The causes of your sensitive gag reflex can be psychological, physiological, or both. For example, you may have had a traumatic past experience where you nearly drowned. Having dental treatment subconsciously reminds you of that experience. Gagging can also be triggered by anxiety and fear about being at the dentist.
Tips for Controlling Your Strong Gag Reflex
If you have a strong gag reflex, don’t feel alone. This condition is so common that almost every dentist has encountered it. Here are 10 tips to help you manage your gag reflex:
.Convey your fears: Dental health is vital to your overall health, so don’t let your active gag reflex stop you from making a dentist appointment. Tell your dentist about any fears you have and your particular dental treatment that has caused you to gag in the past. They can help you to make your experience at the clinic as pleasant as possible.
.Breathe through your nose: Take deep breaths to help you stay relaxed and not overwhelmed. If your nose is stuffy on the day of your appointment, consider rescheduling. Take a nasal decongestant before your appointment to help you breathe smoothly.
.Use a numbing throat spray: Over-the-counter numbing throat spray can temporarily relieve the gag reflex. Use two or three sprays just before treatment and numbness should last about an hour.
.Use anti-snoring spray: Suppressing the gag reflex is not the main purpose of anti-snoring spray, but most patients respond well to this remedy. Use just before your dentist appointment to make your appointment more enjoyable.
.Put salt on your tongue: Another way to deal with physiologically induced gagging is to put some table salt on your tongue. You can also choose to shake it with salt water. Remember to spit, not just swallow the water.
.Humming: Start humming when the dentist places an instrument in your mouth. You’ll be surprised to learn that you can’t purr and gag at the same time.
.Choose a good time of day: You may find that you are more prone to gagging at certain times of the day. If you’re gagging more at night when brushing your teeth in the morning, it may be helpful to schedule your appointment later in the day.
.Sit instead of lying down: It may require some unconventional precautions, but it is possible for the dentist to take impressions and do other work while you are standing; this can help suppress the gag reflex compared to lying down.
.Use some form of sedation: Nitrous oxide, oral sedation, and IV sedation are three options that allow the dentist to do quality work without any discomfort on your part.
.Practice controlling your gag reflex: After brushing your teeth each night, gently touch the toothbrush to the soft palate at the back of your mouth. You will feel the urge to gag, but you can control it by focusing on breathing through your nose. As you become less sensitive from week to week, advance the toothbrush a little further back. This tactic works, but you have to be willing to put it into practice.