Boca Raton Dentist Shares Causes & Short-Term Fixes
Did you know that almost 1/3 of Americans don’t have a gag reflex? For those that aren’t so lucky, gagging can be quite troublesome, especially when brushing your teeth. It’s also a standard issue when visiting the dentist or taking your pills. Let’s look at the way to relieve this discomfort.
What Causes Gagging?
It’s a protective reflex that keeps you from sending food down your windpipe. When this reflex is overactive, it hinders your everyday activities. There’s a physical aspect to gagging when the touch receptors at the back of your mouth are stimulated. This sends a signal off to your nervous system which makes the muscles contract.
Then, there’s a mental aspect that makes it hyperactive. If you’ve ever looked at something and started gagging, then you understand the psychological issue.
The gag reflex is a combination of these two aspects. They both need to be dealt with in order to reduce your gag reflex.
There are several short-term fixes that will make gagging less frequent for most people.
• Controlled breathing – close your eyes and breathe deeply through your nose.
• Sitting up – if you gag at the dentist, ask if you can sit up.
• Anesthetics – at the dentist, you can have a spray applied that will numb the back of your throat.
• Distraction – think of something else while you practice your controlled breathing. Watch some TV or listen to music.
• Sedation – mild sedatives work great for people that have a strong gag reflex when they need dental work done.
• Salt – while there’s no evidence as to how it works, people report that putting salt on their tongue helps the gag reflex.
There’s a more permanent solution referred to as desensitizing. First, you must identify the area that causes your gag reflex to be most sensitive. This tends to be the roof of the mouth, at the back of your throat or on the back of the tongue. Now, you need to stimulate that area repeatedly. Try to stay there as long as possible. Rest and then do it again. Your goal is to increase the time you can tolerate this. It might take a while, but eventually, your gag reflex will get better. If you continue to have issues, be sure to talk to your Boca Raton dentist.