Oral Sedation and Gag Reflex

Looking Beyond Dental Fear and Anxiety

Most people realize that oral sedation can be helpful for calming anxiety and fear in patients who are afraid of the dentist. However, oral sedation dentistry can benefit another category of patients, too — people who have a sensitive gag reflex that makes traditional dental care a nightmare.

What is Gag Reflex?

Just as it sounds, “gag reflex” is the tendency to gag when a foreign object touches the back of the throat. Sometimes, even the act of brushing their teeth triggers this gag reflex. Gagging may be either psychological in nature (due to a patient’s irrational fear that they will not be able to breathe), or physiological in nature (hypersensitivity of the pharyngeal nerves in the back of the throat). Sometimes it’s a combination of both.

Sensitive Gag Reflex and Dental Care

Regardless of why some people have strong gag reflexes, it can make dental work impossible if not addressed. Explorer tools, cotton, X-rays, impression material, even water and air are all gag triggers for patients in the dental chair. Not only is the gagging sensation extremely uncomfortable for patients, it also can make routine dental visits last much longer than they need to. When a patient repeatedly gags, the dentist must back off, wait, and then make a new attempt to complete the X-ray, impression, cleaning, exam, or whatever it is. It’s frustrating for the patient, and this frustration can make the gag reflex worse. It’s a vicious cycle! However, help is available.

Oral Sedation to the Rescue

Just as oral sedation medications calm the nerves of anxious patients, they can relax the muscles and nerves in the back of the throat and significantly reduce patients’ urge to gag. If you know that you’re prone to gagging, discuss this with Dr. Denes before your appointment at Fresno Dental Studio. He can prescribe oral sedation medication that you take before you arrive at the office and which can help you undergo much needed dental care.

Afraid of the Dentist? We Can Change That.

Using safe, effective sedation dentistry, Fresno general dentist Dr. Alex Denes can calm even the most fearful or nervous patients, so they are able to move forward with preventive, restorative, and cosmetic dental care. If you or someone you love is afraid of the dentist, contact our Fresno dentist office at (559) 297-1800 to schedule an appointment. Fresno Dental Studio proudly serves patients in Fresno and surrounding areas including Clovis, Madera, and Sanger.