Stop 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.
I was shocked to read a recent article on line by a clinical assistant professor at NYU College of Dentistry which made no mention of any of the methods we use every day in our practice. Matter of fact, some of his recommendations, I totally disagree with as they can make things worse:
- 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.
- Injecting Novocain into the tongue and palate: Painful and can cause more side effects than the actual dental work.
- 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.
- Nitrous Oxide: Laughing gas can interfere with patient’s meds and cause vomiting.
- Valium before your appointment: Same issues as number 4.
What we do to stop gagging:
- 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.
- 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.
- Bring our ear buds and listen to music on your phone.
- Eat a light meal before the treatment; don’t come in on an empty stomach, but don’t eat a Ruben either.
- 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.
Dr. Mitchell Josephs practices Implant, Cosmetic and General Dentistry with an emphasis on implants, porcelain veneers, and complex crown and bridge treatment. He is on staff at JFK Medical Center and is a Faculty Advisory Board member at McGill University’s Faculty of Dentistry. He completed his residency at Manhattan’s Beth Israel Medical Center and Mt. Sinai Hospital