The gag reflex is a natural reflex of the human body that is meant to help save you from choking. Everyone has a gag reflex, but some people’s reflex is much more sensitive than others. For some people, if anything touches or gets too close to the palate of the mouth then their gag reflex will go into effect. Many people avoid going to the dentist because they are afraid of how they will react when something is put into their mouth.
Putting off dental visits is extremely discouraged because of how quickly oral health issues can present themselves. Those who suffer from a sensitive gag reflex can receive successful dental care, and taking the following steps can help to ensure a more relaxed and pleasant experience.
- Speak with your dentist about your sensitive gag reflex. Your dentist’s greatest concern is your oral health, and s/he wants you to receive successful care. A sensitive gag reflex is relatively common, and dentists and dental hygienists are able to provide cleaning approaches that are altered for your needs. But they can only do this when they are aware of your situation.
- Breathe through your nose. Focus on regular breathing patterns through your nose during dental procedures. Not only does the focus help redirect your brain to concentrate on something other than your gag reflex, but it is also likely to reduce the psychosocially induced gag reflex from being triggered.
- Distract yourself by watching TV, listening to music, or listening to a podcast that you are highly interested in. This distraction will also allow your brain to focus on something other than your gag reflex and your worries.
- Request afternoon appointments. Studies have shown that the body is more awake in the morning and more relaxed after lunch. Making dental appointments in the afternoon, when your body is naturally more relaxed, can aid in the prevention of your gag reflex being stimulated.
- Sit up straight. By keeping a straight posture, there is more room in the back of your throat. You can simply ask that your dental chair be adjusted to suit your needs.
- For those with an extremely sensitive gag reflex, or with a dental phobia in addition to a sensitive gag reflex, ask about sedation dentistry options.
At Group Health Dental, we strive to meet all of your oral health care needs.