Most dental patients experience a mild level of anxiety when visiting the dental office. For the patient with a severe gag reflex, that anxiety level can increase considerably. If you have a strong gag reflex, you may be avoiding the dentist as a result. Unfortunately, avoidance can only lead to serious dental problems.
At Aesthetic & Implant Dentistry of Atlanta, we can help you address gag reflex issues with specialized dentistry. No matter how severe your gagging problem may seem, we are here to help get it under control. Our dental team wants you to get the oral care you need to have a bright, healthy smile.
Causes of Severe Gag Reflex
The body has innate defense mechanisms to keep it safe and healthy. Among these is the gag reflex, or pharyngeal reflex. This system is designed to prevent foreign objects from entering the throat and blocking the airway. Everybody’s gag reflex is different. Some individuals do not seem to have one at all, while others are very sensitive.
An over-active gag reflex can have psychological or physical origins. Psychological factors can contribute to an already sensitive gag reflex or cause one to develop. Past trauma or issues with gagging while in the dental chair can make the problem worse. The anxiety caused by the stress of being in the dental chair can also trigger gagging.
Treating the Patient with Severe Gag Reflex
There are several ways of addressing severe gag reflex. Lowering the chances of gagging can be accomplished by implementing these steps:
- Concentrate on breathing through your nose. It is understandable that when your mouth is open for a dental procedure, you would want to breathe through it. However, this is also one of the top gag reflex triggers. Breathing through your nose will lessen the chance of gagging.
- Use the aspirator. Most dentists will have a little suction device called an aspirator which vacuums the saliva and debris from your mouth. Instead of trying to swallow your saliva, use the aspirator.
- Desensitize your gag reflex. Before your dental appointment, you can implement a desensitizing regime to lessen the severity of your gag reflex. This is done by identifying the place on your tongue that triggers your gag reflex. When you brush your teeth, take a few seconds to brush in that trigger area. Do this regularly, moving your brush back a little more as you become more desensitized. Over a period of weeks, you will find that your gag-reflex is not as sensitive.
- Use distraction. One of the triggers for severe gag-reflex is thinking about it. Distract yourself so your mind is not focused on whether or not you are going to gag. Changing your focus can lower the incidence of gagging.
At AIDA, we can also help lower the chances of gagging by listening to your concerns and addressing them. We can discuss the accommodations we can make to help reduce your chances of gagging while receiving dental care. Your comfort and oral health are of the utmost importance to us at AIDA. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.