Gag-reflex and dentistry

Do you have a sensitive gag reflex? It's hard to control a strong gag reflex because its largely an involuntary response.



Many dental procedures can trigger a gag-reflex: impression, water pooling at the black of the throat, gauze, cotton rolls or even x-rays. A hypersensitive gag-reflex can be a barrier to adequate dental care. It's also a reason people avoid going to the dentist.


Its essential to know your options to get the best dental care possible. Gag-reflex spray might help you at the next dental visit.

What causes gagging?

The gag reflex is a protective response prevent foreign objects from entering the throat and airway. The stimulus may be physical, mental or some combination of the two.

Small children have a small throat space, so they are more likely to gag. It's also easier for them to throw-up. The esophagus elongated with age, so they body's gag reflex reduces over time.


This isn't to stay adults may not have strong gag reflex. Certain smells, sight, past experiences or objects may elicit a strong response. Pregnancy obesity and a congested sinus may also intensify the gag-reflex.

How to prevent gagging

Gagging is a natural response produced by millions of years of evolution to protect us. But, it may come in the way of effective dental treatment. Filling, x-rays or taking impressions may be next to impossible with a hyperactive gag-reflex.


Here are some things you can do at home to make the next dental visit easier:

  • brush your tongue at home, going further back over time

  • use a tongue scraper: https://amzn.to/3dMHsmL

  • practice muscle relaxation techniques at home

Here are some things to do at the dental appointment:

  • hum during x-rays

  • place salt on the tongue

  • ask for a numbing throat spray

  • use a rubber dam to prevent water pooling at the back of the throat

  • complete a bitewing PAN instead of traditional bitewings

  • ask about nitrous oxide or GA sedation if none of the other technique help

Numbing sprays numb the nerve endings at the back of the throat. The typical numbing agents are lidocaine and benzocaine.

#thatdentalgal #dentistry #dental #xrays #numbingspray

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