The gag reflex is a normal defence mechanism that prevents foreign bodies from entering the oral passages. However, some patients have a hypersensitive gag reflex that makes them very anxious and difficult to receive any dental treatment, and they may consequently miss or postpone treatment.
Dental Sedation Solutions considers all patients' needs and aims to assist through sedation methods, allowing you to have necessary dental treatment without anxiety or discomfort.
This involves giving you a sedative medicine through a vein in your arm or hand. The sedative makes you feel deeply relaxed.. You will be able to talk and cooperate with your dental team, but most people cannot remember much about their treatment. IV sedation is proven to help patients and dentists achieve good working conditions as the sedation acts as a muscle relaxant and suppresses your gag reflex from being overly sensitive.
Inhalation sedation is a good option for patients who have a mild gag reflex and require simple treatments. This involves breathing a mixture of oxygen and nitrous oxide through a special nosepiece. It gives you a pleasant, relaxed feeling and reduces the tendency to gag. The dental team will talk to you at the same time in a calm and reassuring way. Most people feel warm, floaty and tingly. At the end of the procedure, you will be given pure oxygen for a couple of minutes and you will recover very quickly. There are no after-effects and most people can drive or return to work the same day. This technique is good for mildly to moderately anxious people who are able to breathe through their nose.
This is a tablet taken that your dentist prescribes. You will be instructed to take the medication either the night before and/or an hour before the procedure begins. Oral premedication does not sedate you or put you to sleep but helps with anxiety and promotes relaxation. You will still be required to have a chaperone and need 24 hours off work with oral premedication.
Clinical hypnotherapy and CBT can aid to provide long-term management of a hypersensitive gag reflex and other dental anxieties. It will aid to make future dental work easier and can be used both with and without sedation. Combining therapy with other means of sedation will help put you on the right track for better oral health if you struggle with dental treatment.
Yes, sedation can minimise and often completely eliminate the fear of gagging / retching whilst under sedation.
Both inhalation sedation and intravenous sedation work well for patients who have a sensitive gag reflex. The method of sedation will be determined also by what dentistry you require. We assess everyone on a case-by-case basis and sedation is definitely not 'one size fits all'!
When you brush, occupy your mind with something else while still using the proper brushing technique, you won't focus on gagging. For example, try sitting in a chair when brushing, straighten one leg, and then lift and hold it in the air. Your mind will focus on keeping your leg lifted with the added benefit of a bit of exercise! In addition, try not to place the toothbrush too far back when brushing your tongue. If at all possible, invest in a tongue scraper instead. Sometimes, patients find using an electric toothbrush with a small round head helps to prevent gagging. Rubbing table salt on your tongue and the roof of your mouth can often reduce the sensation of gagging. Use a dry toothbrush and toothpaste without foaming agents such as SLS e.g. Sensodyne enamel. The dryer the mouth when brushing the less likely you are to gag.
Acupuncture is a recognised and commonly used treatment modality in other areas of medicine. It is an extremely useful technique used in dentistry to prevent gagging. We would recommend trying out acupuncture - you can find out more here.