Dr. Brad Alderman
Dr. Brad Alderman is a highly rated Lincoln, NE dentist and has been serving the community for 14 years. Over the years, Dr. Brad has treated patients of all ages and in all stages of dental health. Dr. Brad has a lot of experience treating patients with strong gag reflexes. He knows that this can cause a lot of anxiety about dental treatment for patients. Patients are worried that they will not be able to tolerate dental work or that their dental provider will not be sensitive to their needs.
This highly rated Lincoln, NE dentist shares information about the gag reflex and how he has learned to manage it for patients who suffer from a strong gag reflex during dental care.
“Many patients who suffer from a strong gag reflex have a tendency to avoid going to the dentist for routine visits because of the anxiety it causes them during their appointment. Everything combined, a strong gag reflex, anxiety, and procrastination, can create a negative cycle. In fact, delaying dental treatment usually leads to more serious dental complications, requiring more extensive treatment. There are ways your dentist can help you to reduce your gag reflex during your dental appointments. Thus, making the experience more comfortable for you.”
“The gag reflex is one of our body’s ways of defending itself against objects becoming stuck in the airway or causing choking. Every person’s gag reflex is different, and many people suffer from an over-active gag reflex. There is some debate as to whether people who suffer from an excessive gag reflex are responding to a psychological or physiological response to stress. The truth is, for many patients, it can be a combination of both. The gag reflex can become exaggerated from the stress of objects in the mouth during dental care for many patients.”
Your highly rated Lincoln dentist on what patients can do to reduce their gag reflex.
“There are a few tips patients can try to reduce their gag reflex. Breathing through the mouth is a big contribution to triggering your gag reflex during dental appointments. If you can focus on breathing through your nose during your appointment, this can help reduce the gag reflex significantly. If you have allergies or sinus problems, take a decongestant before your appointment.”
“Distract yourself by listening to music through headphones or squeezing a stress ball. Keeping your focus on something besides your mouth can help you not gag as frequently. “
“Before your dental visit, you can try to desensitize yourself by finding the area of your tongue that triggers your gag reflex. Brush this area with your toothbrush for ten seconds. Repeat this exercise for several days, and eventually, you will gag less. Continue this process every day, moving your toothbrush back farther each time. This self-desensitization technique can help reduce your gag reflex long-term after a month of continuous practice.”
What can your highly rated Lincoln dentist do to help?
“Most dentists have a few methods they routinely use to help prevent patients from gagging in the chair because this is a prevalent issue for patients. The main thing I try to do as your dentist is listen to your concerns, learning what you as a patient have found to cause the gagging to be more severe. If I can understand what triggers this reflex for you, I can work to help you signal me during the appointment if you are starting to feel overwhelmed. When patients know I will stop and give them a break, I have found that this significantly reduces their anxiety about gagging. I also apply topical anesthetics to areas of the mouth that are sensitive to instruments or water. Numbing these areas can reduce gagging significantly. Many patients need to be seated further forward to avoid water and the taste of dental materials touching the back of the throat. By positioning you a certain way, I can help you to keep your head angled forward, reducing your chances of becoming overwhelmed and gagging.”
“At all of our Nebraska Family Dentistry locations, we utilize a special device called an Isolite. This device helps patients who have strong gag reflexes by helping them remain open with continuous suction. Thus, they do not have water and bad tastes reaching the back of the throat. The Isolite creates a barrier and helps patients relax their jaw and throat while treatment is performed. Some patients still struggle despite the various techniques I mentioned. For these patients, sedation dentistry is a great option. Choosing to do sedation dentistry, gives patients the option to take a medication. This medication will help them relax and feel sleepy during treatment. The use of sedation dentistry medications greatly reduces their gag reflex and anxiety in general. If you are interested in sedation dentistry, we would be happy to see if you are a candidate and help you have the best possible dental experience.”
“My greatest hope for patients with severe gag reflexes is that they seek out a caring dental provider. One who will help them to have the best possible oral health. Having a strong gag reflex may feel like an obstacle for some patients, but I want you to know it is possible to have a comfortable experience in spite of this.”
Your Lincoln Dentist,
Dr. Brad Alderman