Everyone will have experienced the gag reflex when they smell a bad smell, taste something which has gone bad or swallow a large piece of food. The gag reflex is an automatic reaction that your throat performs under certain circumstances. The gag reflex has an evolutionary advantage in that it prevents you from choking or discourages you from eating rotten food.
However, while the gag reflex is useful in these circumstances, it can pose a real problem at a dental checkup. If you have a very sensitive gag reflex, you may find that it is triggered whenever a dentist places their fingers or an instrument in your mouth. This can make it very difficult for a dentist if they try to perform a checkup. Below is a guide to 3 steps you can take to reduce this problem when you visit the dentist for your next checkup appointment.
A gag reflex can become more sensitive if you are stressed. However, once you begin to gag, it is likely you will become stressed, which can cause you to become trapped in a vicious circle in which you are stressed so you gag which makes you more stressed and triggers further gagging. Practising some simple breathing techniques can help to combat this problem. Before your appointment, you should find somewhere quiet to sit down and then close your eyes. Take a long slow deep breath through your nose and hold it in your lungs for a few seconds. You should then slowly exhale. Repeat these steps until you feel calm.
Another good solution is using a throat spray. Throat spray is designed to help people deal with the pain associated with a sore throat or to stop people from snoring in their sleep. The numbing action provided by this type of spray can also help to prevent the gag reflex from being triggered.
It is also possible to condition your gag reflex so that it is no longer triggered when things enter your mouth or touch the back of your tongue or throat. To condition your gag reflex, you should carry out the following training exercise. Place an object such as a toothbrush or a spoon as far back in your mouth as you can. When you feel you are about to gag, you should stop and hold the object in place. Every time you repeat this exercise, you should try to get the object closer to the back of your mouth. As time passes, the gag reflex will become less sensitive.
If you would like further advice, you should speak to your dentist at your next checkup appointment.