Does Going to the Dentist Make You Gag?

Does Going to the Dentist Make You Gag?

Everyone has a gag reflex aka pharyngeal reflex or laryngeal spasm.  It is when the back of your throat contracts when triggered by something touching the roof of your mouth, the back of your tongue or throat, or near your tonsils.  As with anything, some people are more sensitive than others and there are conditions that can aggravate it…one of them being stress/panic/anxiety.

For some patients, it is a physical reaction to being touched in the mouth.  For others it is psychological or a combination of both.  For some, the apprehension about getting into the dentist’s chair is enough to do it. It is uncomfortable, embarrassing, and annoying but by all means not a reason to avoid going to the dentist.

Your gag reflex is one of the body’s defense mechanisms designed to keep foreign objects from entering your throat and blocking your airway, causing you to choke. It is this reflex that makes it difficult for some people to swallow pills.

There are a few things you can do on your own to try and overcome the reflex when having dental work done.

  • Avoid mouth breathing, focus your attention on breathing deeply through your nose instead. You can take an over-the-counter decongestant prior to arriving at your dentist’s office ff a cold or allergies have resulted in a stuffy nose.
  • Allow yourself to drool, swallowing your saliva often leads to gagging.
  • Put your mind elsewhere, distract yourself with thoughts, music, brain teasers or anything other than someone is working in your mouth.
  • Work on desensitizing your mouth before your dental visit. Try brushing the back of your tongue where it is most sensitive.

What We Can Do to Help

Dr. Lichtenstein is well aware of this issue, having many years of experience. We hear you and are here to help you. There are subtle actions we take in the office that can help avoid the situation.

  • We sit you upright — This posture is less likely to trigger a gag reflex.
  • We take digital impressions — Digital technology eliminates the need for traditional wet gooey materials by scanning your mouth with a precise camera.
  • We give you nitrous or sedation — A little laughing gas can ease the anxiety and soothe the gag reflex
  • We can help distract you by talking to you and lightening the mood!

Give us a call, come on in for a consultation and learn how you can lay back and enjoy a visit to the dentist. Dr. Lee Lichtenstein and his highly trained staff offer general dentistry services as well as dental treatments that can be performed using sedation dentistry and general anesthesia techniques to make patients’ experiences more pleasant and comfortable.

723 North Beers Street
Holmdel, NJ 07733.

(732) 739-3337

email us at

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