Personal Stories About Coping With a Sensitive Gag Reflex

The dentist no longer worries me!

by Magicianscotty

My fear of the dentist has certainly calmed down quite a bit after finding my current dentist! She is a periodontal dentist. I went to get my teeth cleaned yesterday. I gotta say the breathing and relaxation techniques I’ve learned plus the gentleness of this dentist has calmed my fears! So let me explain my story!

I never took care of my teeth as a child, didn’t like to brush, didn’t like to floss, nothing. Well, all of those years of neglect plus hereditary gum disease has put me under the periodontal disease diagnosis, which basically means it’s treatable and manageable, but it’s not curable. I go to see the dentist every three months. My teeth are not white at all; in fact, there are deep stains. My gums are healthy, and thankfully no pockets deeper than a 4… one area is my only 5, but that’s it. I’ve stayed on top of my cleaning because I really don’t want to lose my teeth. I figure losing my teeth is so much less bad than the pain. 

So… let me explain the process. 

On the night of the appointment, I have the valium, and a driver lined up to go every time, but so far, I haven’t had to take the medication lately. The valium will make you extremely relaxed, they give me one for the night before and one to take the day of the appointment. If you chose the valium option, you NEED a driver. That’s how relaxed it makes you.

I actually relax by embracing those extreme nervous pains and not letting myself freak out. I just breathe deeply. In for five seconds and then out for 5. I relax all the muscles in the body and associate the sounds with sounds of nature. So the sucker thingy I’ll associate with the wind, and so on. I also focus on what I’m doing after the appointment and that helps me get through it faster. When I get in the chair, they take some X-rays. My tip to avoid the gag reflex is to lift your toes in the air, point your toes forward and flex your abdominal muscles… it will help to control the gag reflex. After the perio-charting, there are several options but I take the laughing gas. The laughing gas makes you feel like you’re floating and it makes you laugh at the most ridiculous things! It’s so much fun. I also opt-in for the ORAQIX numbing solution. It is administered via a needle tip applicator under the gums. NO, it’s not an injection. It’s basically the same thing as (and no worse than) the perio-charting tool, they’re just depositing numbing solution under the gums. Another option they can do is squirt the solution on your gums and you swish it around. That helps significantly as well but it tastes horrid. Finally, they use the sonic tool which they will use to clean your teeth. If you have a gentle dentist, you won’t feel much as long as your pocket depths are 4 or under. The one 5 I had stung quite a bit but nothing I couldn’t handle.

Take care and stay safe everyone! I wish you all the best of luck at your appointments!

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