The gag reflex is a perfectly normal thing. It is in fact your body’s way of protecting you from choking on things.
It occurs when you put any foreign thing in your mouth and when the throat naturally contracts when the thing touches your soft palate. This is a natural contraction that is called the gag reflex or the pharyngeal reflex. It prevents you from choking.
This is a good thing until you realize that it also occurs during brushing your teeth or while sitting in the dentist’s chair. At Your Celebrity Smiles, we have many patients who are unable to control their gag reflex when a dental procedure is being conducted on them. Worst of all, if you are unable to control it, it could result in you becoming anxious and breaking out in a cold sweat.
So how do you reduce dental gag reflex? Let’s see what the dentists at Celebrity Smiles, Westmont, have to say.
Reducing the Gag Reflex During Dental Procedures
- Some patients are unable to control their gag reflex when brushing their teeth or getting a dental procedure done at a dentist. This is almost always instantaneous and involuntary and makes it impossible for dentists to complete even the most basic dental care procedures.
As a result, many patients may become hesitant to visit a dentist for general dentistry until they face a significant problem with their teeth. It can also become quite an embarrassing problem for patients.
- However, rest assured, there is a way to reduce your gag reflex through desensitization, which is basically training your soft palate to not abruptly react to objects without gagging. And the best way to prevent it is to practice it while brushing your teeth.
- Find out when the gag reflex happens. To do this, use your toothbrush to brush your tongue. Start from the tip of the tongue and make your way deeper until the gag reflex happens.
- Try to keep brushing this part for 10 seconds. When you have found the spot when this happens, train yourself not to gag naturally by inducing some gagging. Stop brushing when you feel that you can’t take this anymore. Train yourself daily until you can calmly brush your tongue on the same spot for at least 10 seconds.
- Reach deeper into the mouth. When you have finally gained the control of your gag reflex on the spot, try reaching deeper. Keep moving further until you have moved to the farthest spot the brush can reach and you can comfortably brush there for at least 10 seconds.
If you want to prevent gagging while brushing your teeth, dentists highly recommend using an electric toothbrush or slowly increasing the brushing area as you go. During dental treatments, try and concentrate to breathe through your nose or use a nasal decongestant before you head to the dentist.
Talk to Your Dentist in Advance
- At Your Celebrity Smile, we understand how to gag reflex can be embarrassing and a reason for patients to not come to our office. Gagging can also be caused by psychological factors so it is very important to work with a dentist you can trust.
We take extra care to learn about the discomforts our patients feel during dental treatment. Talk to us in advance when you come in for a procedure and we’ll take extra care while providing treatment to you. We will also recommend exercises to help you reduce or prevent gagging.