Dental Tips Blog


Overcoming Your Gag Reflex

Overcoming or dealing with a sensitive gag reflex can be quite the struggle for the few dental patients that experience them. The first thing to know is that there’s no reason to be embarrassed about having a sensitive gag reflex, because this is nothing new to your dentist. It’s true that most patients don’t have this problem, but it’s also not a rarity in the dental office.

While it’s almost impossible to completely rid yourself of a gag, there are several tricks of the trade that help you to get through your dental care in a comfortable manner. Some of them are very random, but are actually effective:

Sprinkling salt on your tongue

Have you heard of this one? It may sound weird, but many people have found that a small pinch of salt on their tongue does something that allows them to comfortably get through dental x-rays or other procedures that usually set them off. Many dental offices are now beginning to keep small packets of salt on hand in the treatment area for just this reason.

Lifting your foot up into the air

Yes, it sounds silly to most people, but lifting your foot up into the air for several seconds and then alternating it with the other foot does something to your brain that throws off it’s ability to remind you that you want to gag. Or, your dentist may even ask you to hold up a certain number of fingers on one hand, and then put the hand down and hold up another number of fingers on the other hand. Keeping the mind preoccupied can work wonders for many people.

Relaxation and deep breathing are what most people seem to try first, but if that doesn’t work, don’t worry. There’s no rush. Your dental provider wants your experience to be positive and of high quality, so they’ll work with you every step of the way.

If none of these techniques work for you, consider contacting a dentist who specializes in hospital sleep and sedation dentistry.  Sleep and sedation dentists offer various levels of sedation that allow patients with an uncontrollable severe gagging reflex to get the dental care they need.

Posted on behalf of David Kurtzman



Sedation Dentistry

Lets be honest, most people do not look forward to a dentist visit.  In fact, often people will put off routine checkups for years, because of a fear of discomfort during either a dental exam or a routine dental procedure. While dental procedures are generally painless due to the use of excellent local anesthetics, they do not relieve the anxiety some people feel during a dentist visit.  When routine exams are put off, relatively minor dental issues often become major issues.  Sedation dentistry (also called sleep dentistry) is an excellent option for those patients with a fear of visiting the dentist!

During a dentist visit where sedation dentistry is practiced, the dentist will administer either a drug or series of drugs and gases to completely relax the patient, before the work is performed.  Depending on the level of sedation, the patient may be conscious and able to respond to questions, but will often be so relaxed that they will fall asleep during the procedure. In some cases, a deeper level of unconscious sedation is appropriate.  The sedation dentist will be monitoring the patient’s vital signs including breathing, blood pressure and heart rate throughout the entire process.

One of the great things about sedation dentistry is that often the dentist will be able to correct multiple issues during a single visit.  Once the procedure is complete and the anesthetic wears off, the patient usually has no memory of the procedure at all.  One thing to remember is that you will not be allowed to drive afterwards, so the patient will need to have someone with them during the sedation dental visit.  There is no need to be anxious about a dentist any longer!

Posted on behalf of David Kurtzman



Anxiety at the Dentist

“White coat syndrome” is real. Many people become anxious, nervous and uncomfortable when they see a medical care provider or visit the dentist. In the age of gentle dentistry, many people are benefitting from dental care that meets their emotional needs as well as those of their oral health. Finding a dentist that listens attentively to your concerns and allows your input during treatments is one way to make you more comfortable, but there are several people who still suffer from dental care anxiety and need additional help.

For patients with severe fear of the dentist, several types of services are available to physically help them relax. In addition to the use of nitrous oxide gas, some people find it especially helpful to take an anti-anxiety medication before their appointment. This prescription can be written by the dentist ahead of time, so that you can take it before arriving, as long as you have a friend or family member accompanying you on your visit.

Sleep dentistry services that use oral sedatives or IV medications work well for patients who prefer to not know what’s going on during their treatment procedures. These medications make you feel sleepy; yet respond to simple questions when the dentist needs to communicate with you. Oral sedatives take a few hours to wear off, but IV medications stop working as soon as your treatment is completed and the medication is cut off.

There’s no reason to be ashamed about dental anxiety. Most dentists expect some patients to express this concern, and they are equipped to help you receive the care that you need while keeping you comfortable like you deserve.

Posted on behalf of David Kurtzman



Sleep Dentistry

Patients who are anxious about having necessary dental care completed will enjoy the benefits of sleep dentistry. With the benefits of mild sedation services, patients can relax throughout their entire procedure and feel as if they are in a light sleep during their entire appointment.

There are two types of sleep dentistry: IV sedation and oral sedation. With IV sedation, the medication is delivered for a quick onset that provides instant sedative effects. After the procedure is over, the medication is turned off and the patient regains full consciousness very quickly. Oral sedation uses a prescription medication that is taken approximately one hour prior to the procedure, allowing it to take effect by the time the patient’s treatment is scheduled. With oral sedation, the effects last for a few hours until they gradually wear off on their own. There isn’t a way to alter the sedation time with orally administered sedation, but it is still appropriate for routine to moderately involved treatment cases.

During the appointment, staff will closely monitor sleep dentistry patients and check their vital signs on a routine basis. All sedation patients are required to have a friend or family member escort them home from the appointment. The biggest benefit of sleep dentistry is that patients can catch up on important dental treatment in a single visit, without the need to break their care up into separate appointments. For anxious patients or people with special needs, sleep dentistry may be the answer they’ve been searching for when it comes to improving their oral health. If anxiety of dental treatment has kept you from receiving the care that you need, ask your dentist about sleep dentistry.

Posted on behalf of Dr. David Kurtzman


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