A sensitive gag reflex can make people avoid the dentist like the plague. Unfortunately, putting dental care off until there are problems means that treatments will be more involved and lengthier to perform. There are a few things you can do to help manage your gag reflex during routine dental procedures like cleanings and x-rays to help you get the care you need, and keep your smile healthy.
The latest tip to hit the “gag prevention” list is using salt. Just a sprinkle of salt on the tip of the tongue has been shown to reduce the gag response in patients that are having x-rays or short dental procedures completed. Just a small packet of salt from a fast food restaurant is all you need, and some dental offices have started keeping these in the treatment room at the request of their patients.
Topical anesthetic in the form of a spray or rinse can numb the tissues in the roof of the mouth for several minutes, making it unable to feel the physical triggers that induce a gag reflex. Another interesting alternative is acupuncture. Although you won’t find this in many dental offices, it has been proven that acupuncture is very effective at dramatically reducing and controlling oversensitive gag reflexes.
Classic distraction techniques such as holding a foot up in the air during your x-rays, or smiling do work to an extent, and are useful for very short procedures like taking an x-ray. Some patients request nitrous oxide during their appointment to help relax their muscles and reflexes as well, and nitrous is very easy to use as well as has a fast onset time of just a few minutes.
If these methods do not achieve the desired results, sedation dentistry is an excellent alternative for patients with a severe gagging reflex. Your sedation dentist will choose the best level of sedation to allow you to receive the quality dental care you need without discomfort.
Posted on behalf of David Kurtzman
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