Dental Care With A Sensitive Gag Reflex


O'Fallon IL Comfortable Dental TreatmentsIf you gag easily, going to the dentist can be a major source of dread and anxiety. While we all have a natural gag reflex, some people have one that is more sensitive than others. A gag reflex is essentially your body’s natural response to regurgitate a potential obstruction in the throat to prevent choking.

When something touches the glossopharyngeal nerve fibers behind the nasal cavity at the very back of your mouth, the brain sends signals to “gag” and get the object back up. It is designed to be a protection mechanism. However, when these pharyngeal nerve fibers are overly sensitive, it can be problematic – especially in the dental chair.

Your sensitive gag reflex can be psychological or physiological in nature. Either way, it doesn’t mean you can’t receive dental care in a comfortable, stress-free way. Sedation dentistry is a highly effective tool to help patients stay relaxed during dental treatments, whether they are just anxious about the appointment or have a problem with gagging easily. At Soft Touch Dentistry, we are proud to offer a full menu of sedation options, including oral sedation, nitrous oxide and I.V. Sedation.

In addition to sedation dentistry, there are also a few tips you can try to reduce your likelihood of gagging during dental treatments:

  • Breathe through your nose.
  • Take a nasal decongestant to open up the nasal passages.
  • Use a throat spray to numb the nerve fibers at the back of your mouth.
  • Stay distracted. Listen to music or watch TV while in the dental chair.
  • Schedule your appointment in the afternoon. Studies show that the gag reflex is stronger in the morning.
  • Ask to sit up straighter in the dental chair.
  • Fold your left thumb into the palm of your hand, then make a fist and squeeze your left thumb. A recent study says this helps with sensitive gag reflex!
  • Ask for sedation dentistry!

If you suffer from a sensitive gag reflex, please let us know at Soft Touch Dentistry. We can help both children and adults receive comfortable dental care despite obstacles such as sensitive gagging.

Posted on behalf of Dr. Sarah Thompson, Soft Touch Dentistry
Follow us on:


Soft Touch Dentistry

1214 Paragon Dr
O’Fallon, IL 62269
(618) 622-5050