Most people dread going to the dentist. Those that have a strong gag reflex, however, not only dread it, but intentionally skip it to avoid discomfort. This puts them at greater risk for dental problems, at the same time, puts your dental practice in an unstable status, given the missed appointments. To avoid that and provide high-quality patient care, here are the best practices in managing gag reflex among patients:
Apply local anesthetics
As you know, gag reflex is the body’s natural response to foreign objects in the mouth. When a dental tool or a putty touches the tongue or the palate, gag reflex occurs. Patients often have multiple episodes of gag reflex since they’re lying on their back and treatments last for a long period. What some dentists do is use topical gels and sprays to numb the tongue and the roof of the mouth or the surrounding tissues, thereby reducing sensitivity. Inform your patient about applying anesthetics so they know what to expect.
Thankfully, there are lots of technologies today that allow you to avoid putting nauseating putty altogether and speed up procedures. For instance, 3D printing in dentistry allows practitioners to take quick dental impressions with only a scanner. Not only that, Orthodenco Orthodontic Lab adds that it enables the creation of different oral appliances for a considerably shorter time. With such technology, patients are able to relax better in the dentists’ chair, at the same time, won’t spend longer waiting times, which increases anxiety.
Ease your patient’s fears
If the patient is hyper-aware of their gag reflex, their anxiety about it will worsen the problem. Help them relieve that anxiety, starting with breathing techniques. Encourage them to breathe through their nose. It’s not the easiest to do, while the mouth is open, but this very difficulty allows them to redirect their thoughts to breathing. Distractions would also help, let’s say telling them a story or playing background music. Of course, administering nitrous oxide is also effective in easing anxiety.
Do you have patients who have severe gagging reflexes? Don’t let them shy away from treatments because of the problem. Apply these practices to improve patient care.