Gagging and Dental Visits
Gagging and Dental Anxiety
There are many things we can do to make patients comfortable at the dentist and make dental care available without the fear or dental anxiety. Dental visits most often begin with dental X-rays. We can use mouth rinses that dull sensation to help the X-ray process. Panoramic X-rays are also available, where no dental film is placed inside the mouth at all. If need be, all X-rays can be taken while the patient sleeps under sedation. There are techniques with local anesthesia (commonly called novacaine) that can numb the tongue and palate to reduce gagging. Various forms of sedation are available that generally can make patients entirely free from the gag reflex.
The purpose of the initial consultation is to learn the needs of the patient and begin to develop a plan of care so that the patient can have their dental care in comfort, their way. We hope that our patients will always be able to tell us how they feel, and what we can do to make them the most comfortable.
What triggers the gag reflex?
The gag reflex is the body’s natural defense mechanism that keeps foreign objects out of your upper respiratory tract. When the body senses something other than air headed down the larynx, pharynx, or trachea, the muscles in the area spasm and contract.
Dental impression trays, especially with the impression material, and the x-ray process can cause this gag reflex.
Are there ways to lessen the gag reflex?
We can work together to overcome the gag reflex.
Things you can do…
- Focus on breathing through your nose — Focusing on breathing deeply through your nose will help you relax.
- Drool if you need to — Allow yourself to drool, rather than trying to swallow with the x-ray sensor, camera, or impression tray in your mouth.
- Think of something else — Work on conjugations from French class, or run through multiplication tables, or list all 50 states. Distracting your brain can make the time pass quickly.
Things we can do…
- Sit you upright — If you’re sitting upright, with your head tilting forward, this position is less likely to trigger a gag reflex.
- Take digital impressions — Digital technology eliminates the need for traditional materials by scanning your mouth with a precise camera. With this technology, we can simplify the impression process and reduce gagging.
- Give you nitrous — A little laughing gas can go a long way in preventing the gag reflex and providing comfortable dental care.
- Storytime — We can help distract you by talking to you for a few minutes, without asking any questions, of course. Our team is a fun bunch with some great stories!
Dr. Louis Siegelman has extensive experience treating patients with dental anxiety, dental phobia, and needle phobia. Call today at (212) 974-8737 or fill out a Contact Form here to learn more about these problems in New York City, Westchester County, Long Island, Rockland County, New Jersey and Connecticut.