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So anxious about gagging again



Junior member
Sep 29, 2021
Hi all,
When I’m anxious it sets off my gag reflex, and so when I’m in the dentist chair my brain will do anything to make me think about something nauseating, hence causing me to panic and/or gag. Helpful. The last time I went to the hygienist all was going well with my cleaning until I am sure I could smell a waft of cigarette smoke… and I gagged. A few seconds break and I was able to continue.

Two weeks later I had a routine checkup and gagged literally two seconds after she’d put the mirror in my mouth. Again, a few seconds break and I could continue amd manages to have the X-rays with no gagging.

I’m back at the hygienist and I’m scared of gagging again, I just don’t know what else to try to stop it. Ive read the section on here about gagging and will try a few of the tips.

Anyone else have any fresh suggestions please?
Dr. Daniel

Dr. Daniel

Well-known member
Verified dentist
Nov 2, 2010
The Hague , Holland

The gagging gets better when the patient feels more comfortable and trusting in the dental care provider. If possible, I would stick with an oral hygienist you feel comfortable with, in the long run.

Some small tricks that help with gagging:

- don’t go on an empty stomach, hunger makes gagging worse. It sounds counter-intuitive because some might think it is better to come on an empty stomach so they can’t throw up anything, but it is actually not.

- laughing gas, nitrous oxide, does wonders with gagging

- being treated in a semi-sitting position. If the oral hygienist is willing to work standing up.

- a bit of salt on the tip of the tongue, just before the cleaning takes place, should also help (don’t ask me how, I have no idea, but it works well with impressions).

- ask the oral hygienist to use only hand instruments, not the ultrasonic (water-spraying) cleaning device. Much more comfortable.

- most importantly: no time pressure. That only stresses the patient.