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Anxiety and heavy gag reflex defeated with medications



Junior member
Apr 21, 2023
My anxiety and nausea have always come hand in hand during my life, and having dental work done is the peak trigger of them all. I get nauseous because I'm anxious, and I get anxious because I feel the nausea. This all spirals out of control the moment something foreign enters my mouth. During stressful mornings, I even struggle to brush my back teeth because of this. Add some extra childhood dental trauma from my first dentist, shaming from my second one, and getting scammed by my third one, and I got myself a nice package of dental phobia. :)

I'm a long time lurker on this forum. I remember visiting back in 2010, but I kept ignoring my problems. This year, however, I knew I had to do something of my teeth. I initially registered to ask for advice, but in the end, I did not have to. Still, thank you all who shared your stories, tips, and medication doses, they helped me get through treatment.

It took 3 months, 12 appointments, 5 fillings, 1 root canal, taking full dental impressions and 17 new zirconia crowns. I live in Europe, this full procedure cost me 5k EUR. I finally have a smile I am proud of, and a super strong chew that I'm still getting used to. I want to share some tips I learned:
  • Tell people your problems and ask for help. The dentist, assistant, receptionist, your GP and the pharmacyst, they are all there to help you. They should be empathetic and trying everything to accommodate you, and find solutions to your problems. Don't hide your issues, that will only add to your anxiety.
  • IV sedation is magic. I experienced it twice in the past. Wish it was the standard. It's terribly expensive by itself, plus you are limited to dental clinics that are already more expensive than the standard ones. It would have doubled my costs, so I decided to try oral medications first.
  • Sedatives and nausea medicine are great. Xanax and Dramamine worked wonders for me. Tell your GP you have issues with the dentist and ask for sedatives. Tell them you are not a little scared like 90% of the population, but have actual phobia. They should help you with the dosage.
  • Your fear will not go away completely. And that's totally fine. Oral sedatives don't magically make your not afraid unfortunately, but they kind of put a cap on your anxiety levels. Tips and tricks that work for normal people, like holding the suction tool, humming, signaling the dentist, building trust, breathing exercise, etc. start working for you too.
  • Setbacks can still happen. On a particularly bad day with a bad stomach, or on a lower dosage it can happen that you don't get through the full session. Happened to me twice, I felt defated. Increased the med dosage next time, and tried again. A good dentist will be understanding.
  • Your gag reflex is not too strong, you just need more sedatives. Quoting my GP here.
  • Eat foods beforehand that don't upset your stomach. Toast, banana, peppermint tea, very light foods on the day of the treatment. Absolutely no coffee.
  • Don't think too much, just take the first step. Sorry about the cliche, but it's very true. Once I started the treatment process, there were no questions or doubts, just one step forward each time.
Writing all these down sounds easy, but it's absolutely not. It will be challenging, and the process will seem endless. Once you start seeing the positive results, it will start to get a little better. Hope this helps someone at least a little.
Thanks for sharing your story! I love the tips you provided!