Does your gag reflex stop you from coming to the dentist? - The Community Leader and Real Estate New and Views


Everyone has a gag reflex. Essentially, it’s the opposite of swallowing and exists to prevent choking. During a gag reflex, muscles at the back of your mouth work to stop the foreign object from entering your throat. This is guided by nerves and muscles. Touch or sense in any of these spots causes gagging signals to travel from nerves to the brain stem. The brain commands the muscles in the back of your mouth to shrink and cause gagging. While it’s a protective mechanism, many patients have a sensitive gag reflex, which can interfere with them accessing the dental treatment they need, such as fillings, crowns, or, in some cases, even a general examination and clean.

The good news is, there are some tips and tricks you can try to assist:

  • An old wives’ tale that actually works is to place table salt on your tongue just before your appointment. We can even have this ready for you for your appointment if this works for you!
  • Sitting more upright – we can accommodate placing the dental chair a little more upright for your procedures if this assists with reducing your gag reflex. Some people find if they’re lying too flat, their gag reflex is exaggerated.
  • Nitrous Oxide – this is a form of sedation that helps patients to feel more relaxed, which can also mean the relaxing of your gag reflex muscles.
  • Acupuncture – there are two acupuncture points that can be utilised to reduce the gag reflex.
  • Modern dental technologies – such as Intra-oral scanners instead of gag-inducing impression materials and quick setting filling materials – all assist with reducing patient chair time and the opportunity for a gag reflex to take over.

If you’ve been struggling with gagging at the dentist and have been putting off much-needed preventive or treatment appointments, this is your reminder to book in and let our professional team know that this is something you need assistance with. We’re always more than happy to help our patients have a great dental experience. Call our team at Dental on Cambridge to book your appointment today at 3348 6661.

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