Tips from the Dentist for the Patient
Going to see a dentist can be a problem for some people because they have a gag reflex that gets in the way. It can sometimes be strong enough that even the thought or sight of a tongue suppressor causes a gag reaction. When this happens, neither the dentist nor the patient can get anything done. Now there are some solutions to this very common problem.
A Natural ProblemMost everyone has a gag reflex, which is also known as the pharyngeal reflex or laryngeal spasm, but some people have almost no gag reflex. It is caused by a natural protective response to objects to prevent them from entering into the larynx, pharynx, or the trachea. Your muscles will naturally spasm to keep objects away.
For some people, doing simple tasks at home can even cause the gag reflex. Brushing teeth may even be difficult. The dentist, of course, has several tasks that are apt to trigger the reflex action, including dental x-rays, cleaning teeth, drilling, putting in fillings, and more. Getting a dental impression is one of the worst causes, and nearly impossible for some people.
Stopping the Gag ReflexThere are several things you can try to get your mind off of the reflex action. Some of these will work well for some people but not as well for others. You will likely need to experiment to see which one helps you the most.
Squeeze Your Thumb
Breathe Through Your Nose
Use a Stress Ball
Listen to Music
How the Dentist Can HelpTechnology in the dentist's office has greatly improved. Some offices, of course, will not have all the latest technology or gadgets, but some things that may help you relax more may include:
Dentist chairs that provide heat – The heat can help you relax and not be tense.
Vibrating dentist chairs – This is another option that some dentists have available to reduce your stress and possibly your gag reflex.
A topical spray – A dentist has a topical anesthetic spray that can be used to relax the muscles at the back of your throat.
Nitrous oxide – This gas is available in many dentist's offices. It will not put you to sleep, but it certainly may help you to overcome the gag reflex. It will relax your throat muscles, too.
Sleep dentistry – If your gag reflex cannot be reduced by other means, you can be helped to relax. Oral surgeons can use various means to relax you, including what is often referred to as "sleep dentistry." The dentist can provide you with medication, an IV, or another form to accomplish it.
Desensitize yourselfIf all else fails and you still have a sensitive gag reflex, but you still want to overcome it, there are things you can do to desensitize yourself. Start by taking your toothbrush or finger and slowly move it back into your mouth on the back and side of your tongue until you start to feel the gag reflex start.
Then, repeatedly touch that part of your tongue and mouth in those spots and try to stop the reflex. Soon, you will find it getting less and less strong, and you will be able to move your toothbrush or finger back further and further. Although you may not be able to stop gag reflex completely, you certainly can reduce it – enabling the dentist to make your teeth look beautiful again.
If you have problems with the gag reflex, it can be overcome with help from Dr. Kumar T. Vadivel, DDS, FDS RCS, MS, a Board Certified Periodontist. He has various treatments that can help prevent dental gag, enabling dental work to be conducted with ease. His dental offices are in the Carrollton, TX, and Grapevine, TX areas. For a consultation or dental checkup, you can contact his office today at (817) 756-8578.