Stopping Gagging at the Dentist

Stopping Gagging at the Dentist

Q: I finally saved up for a new smile with porcelain veneers, but I have a terrible gag reflex. What can be done with patients like me?

A: I had to rewrite the question for this reader. She originally wrote: “I keep gagging at my dentist.” I believe she meant: “I keep gagging at the dental office.”  I can’t imagine just the sight of the dentist would make one blow a cookie.  Many of our patients who have tons of veneers, implants and crown and bridge work have hyperactive gag reflexes leading to a Technicolor burp or two. There is help.

This is what should NOT be done for gaggers:

  1. liquid lidocaine to numb up the palate. Forget it! Patients hate the feeling of a numb throat, plus they can accidentally swallow small dental tools.
  2. Injecting Novocain into the tongue and palate: Painful and can cause more side effects than the actual dental work.
  3. Taking panoramic and CT Scans vs. regular dental X-rays which do not place any sensors or film in the mouth. : Not smart; these give more radiation and will not pick up cavities, most abscesses and other small but significant pathologies in the mouth.
  4. Nitrous Oxide: Laughing gas can interfere with patient’s meds and cause vomiting.

What we do to stop gagging:

  1. use of digital impressions; no-gagging goop. Visit “iTero Element” on line for more info on this highly accurate, fast and gag-less method of taking impressions.
  2. Acupressure: squeeze the groove between your pinky and ring finger knuckle with the thumb and index finger of the opposite hand during the dental procedure.
  3. Bring your ear buds and listen to music on your phone.
  4. Eat a light meal before the treatment; don’t come in on an empty stomach, but don’t eat a Ruben either.
  5. If the dental operatory has windows with a nice outside view, focus on one object such as a swaying palm tree during the treatment, or your favorite TV show on a screen in the room.
  6. Comfort resting block to keep open and allow you to relax.
  7. Halcion one hour before visit. (Short acting medication; better than Valium to remove anxiety.)
  8. Shorter procedure times: Hi Tech equipment, procedures and materials that can make a crown visit less than 30min. in the chair. (Electric drills, electronic anesthesia, super-fast setting temporary crown materials and digital no-goop impressions .)


Editor’s Note: Don’t miss our next FREE public seminar: “Teeth for Life XXIII” at the Double Tree Hotel on PGA Blvd. in Palm Beach Gardens Florida on Friday July 29th 2022 at 11:30 AM. All attendees will receive a copy of Dr. Josephs’ latest Book: “MORE Tooth Talk! What Educated Patients Need to Know About 21st Century Dental Treatment” ONLY 37 SEATS REMAIN register today at 561-832-2917 or email us at

A $25 donation will be made by Dr. Josephs on behalf of each attendee to the St. Marys’ Pediatric Oncology Department in West Palm Beach. Last the donation amount reached $2000. We look forward to seeing you and your friends to support this great cause on the 29th!

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