If you have dental anxiety, you may think you have it under control. You’re not afraid. You make it to the dentist. Perhaps you don’t make it as often as you should–and you’d never voluntarily have dental treatment–but you keep your oral health relatively in shape. You just have one problem: serious gagging.
Your Gagging May Not Be Physical
We think of gagging as a physical response. It’s very visceral. Things go in your mouth and your entire body contracts involuntarily. Although gagging certainly can be triggered physically if something contacts certain parts of the mouth, dentists know better than to contact these parts of the mouth. Instead, most of the time gagging in the dentist chair is a psychological response.
Surveys of dental patients have correlated gagging with dental anxiety. Patients most likely to gag are those who have the highest levels of anxiety. About half of patients at the highest levels of anxiety always gag whenever anything is placed in their mouth.
Some patients may even begin gagging while they sit in the waiting room.
We Can Work with You
The first step in trying to overcome gagging and other symptoms of dental anxiety is practicing relaxation techniques. We can talk to you about some that have helped our other patients. We are happy to talk about your anxiety, because sometimes just talking about it helps a lot.
We can also talk to you about procedures that are most likely to cause you anxiety and gagging. Knowledge about what’s going on can help a lot, too. Sometimes practice and desensitization works wonders, too.
Sedation Dentistry Options
Other times, sedation dentistry is the best approach to overcoming anxiety and gagging. At Rice Dentistry, we offer a full range of sedation dentistry options. Oral sedation uses a pill or two that you take at home before coming to your appointment. This is a great option for people whose anxiety begins before your appointment and may cause you to cancel your appointment last minute.
Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) is a very convenient method of sedation dentistry. It can be used for as long as necessary during the procedure, but you can recover from it fairly quickly. Unlike oral sedation, it is usually safe to drive both to and from a dental appointment where you get nitrous oxide.
For people with serious anxiety or who are having major dental work done, we offer IV sedation, which allows for a deeper level of sedation.