Does The Dentist Make You Gag?
Does your sensitive gag reflex keep you from going to the dentist? You are not alone. Nearly 15% of dental patients suffer from hypersensitive gag reflex, or HGR. This uncontrollable reaction in the back of your throat can make certain procedures at the dentist very uncomfortable. To make matters worse, your anxiety over your gag reflex can actually cause you to be even more sensitive and reactive. Should you avoid the dentist altogether? Absolutely not. You’ll be pleased to know that there are several ways that you can combat a hypersensitive gag reflex and receive the quality dental care you need and deserve.
Everyone Has a Gag Reflex
The gag reflex, or laryngeal spasm, is an uncontrolled contraction of the back of the throat that occurs when an object touches the roof of your mouth, the back of your tongue, the area around your tonsils or the back of your throat. It’s our body’s built-in safety system to prevent choking. In fact, infants have a highly sensitive gag reflex because their digestive system can’t process solid foods. As they grow older, the gag reflex adjusts to their body’s ability to handle bigger chunks of food. Unfortunately, some adults have a gag reflex that is more sensitive or reactive than others. This doesn’t mean they can’t swallow solid foods, but it can mean that an impression or cleaning at the dental office is difficult to endure without gagging.
How to Suppress Your Gag Reflex at the Dentist
When it comes to dental care and your hypersensitive gag reflex, communication is important. Always disclose your concern about gagging to your dentist. There are a number of things we can do to help you stay comfortable in the dental chair, including the following:
- Sedation dentistry (laughing gas)
- Numbing products
- Distraction/diversion techniques
- Soothing amenities to help your body relax
Believe it or not, there are also things you can do on your own to override your brain’s gagging reflex when you’re sitting in the chair. While it may sound silly and not work for everyone, many patients can suppress their gag reflex by simply making a fist with their left hand and squeezing their thumb to apply pressure to the palm. Other patients find relief by practicing deep breathing during dental treatments.
At Laguna West Dental, we specialize in treating patients who have a hypersensitive gag reflex. We do not want this condition to keep you away from our dental office. Please let us know if you are prone to gagging, and we can implement methods to help.
Posted on behalf of
9098 Laguna Main St Ste 8
Elk Grove, CA 95758
Phone: (916) 683-7300