Gagging can be such a problem for some people that they refuse to go to the dentist because of it. But did you know there are ways to ensure you don’t gag the next time you’re in for a cleaning? It’s true! Keep reading to learn some easy ways to get that gag reflex under control.
Topical, Local Anesthetics, or Salt
Sometimes applying topical or local anesthetics to the roof of the mouth, tongue, and other areas can help patients who gag severely. Anesthesiologists, otolaryngologists, and dentists often perform such techniques successfully. Alternatively, if you prefer something a little more “natural,” salt can also work. Apply some salt to the sides of the tongue, or ask the dentist to do this for you.
Yes, that sounds too simple to be true but diaphragmatic breathing can actually do wonders. While many people gag for a variety of reasons, anxiety is often the cause. You can fight this by taking even breaths in-and-out through your nose. This relaxes the fight-or-flight part of the nervous system, thus calming you down and helping you control your gag reflex.
For some, it’s not enough to just breathe. Particularly fearful patients may need some sedation or nitrous oxide. Discuss this option with Dr. Flesher to see if these could be options for you. Alternatively, if you suffer from an anxiety disorder, consultation with a psychologist or psychiatrist can determine if anti-anxiety medication might be helpful. If so, you may notice a tremendous difference next time you’re in the dentist’s chair.