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Controlling The Reflexive Gagging Response

Many dental patients avoid going to the dentist because of an abnormally severe gag reflex.

Some patients cannot even brush their back teeth without starting to gag. This is a very real problem at the dentist office since many patients may not be able to withstand having their tongue touched with a dental mirror or other instruments (even fingers). This gag reflex is instantaneous and makes it impossible for many patients to complete even basic dental care.

Resultantly, such patients may avoid going to the dentist for cleanings and dental care for many years. It can become an embarrassing and frustrating problem for patients.

Conscious Sedation Management Solutions

An excellent way to quell or obtain better control over this exaggerated gag reflex is through sedation dentistry. The administration of Oral and IV sedation support services enables patients suffering from this problem to be helped easily and comfortably.

Conscious Sedation can control and eliminate the gag reflex response to almost any number of stimuli or conditions that elicits this involuntary behavior.

The sedation medications help the patient achieve a state of total relaxation. They can complete hours worth of dentistry easily and comfortably with little memory of the appointment.

Some of the popular sedation methods used by patients with severe gag reflex responses are:

1. Nitrous Oxide

2. Benzocaine spray can be used to briefly numb the gag reflex areas for simple things like taking x-rays or taking an impression. The back of the throat stays numb long enough for most people to get through these procedures. For severe cases it may not work.

3. Oral sedation with the Benzodiazepine medications like Valium or Halcion can greatly reduce the gag reflex response.

4. I.V. sedation medications such as Versed or Fentanyl are also popularly effective for eliminating the gag reflex.

Although patients will have unique responses to the different types of sedation methods used, the gag reflex can be effectively controlled. The sedation medications not only eliminate the response but allows the pleasant perception of time passing quickly with little or no memory of treatments performed.

Ron Briglia, DMD

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