How to Help Your Child Manage Her Gag Reflex and Reduce Anxiety When Visiting the Dentist

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Childhood visits to the dentist can be a source of anxiety. And if your child suffers from a hypersensitive gag reflex, that only ups the ante. At Pearly Whites Dental Care, your local dentist serving Bucks County, we know the importance of maintaining good oral health from an early age, and that includes regular dental office visits. The last thing you want is for your child to develop a life-long fear of the dentist. Fortunately, there are ways to help your child manage her gag reflex and feel a bit less anxious about her visits.

What is a gag reflex?

The gag reflex is the body’s way of protecting itself from foreign objects getting caught in the throat. For some, sensitivity to feeling something toward the back of the mouth can be exceptionally strong, making gagging during dental procedures or even brushing one’s teeth an all-too-common experience. If you believe your child has a stronger than normal gag reflex, be sure to talk to your dentist before a visit to discuss ways to mitigate the problem.

What Works?

At Pearly Whites Dental Care, your local dentist serving Bucks County, we want your child to have a positive experience with us. So whether your child’s gag reflex is physiological or psychological—and often it is both—we’re happy to suggest a few common remedies.

• Breathe: It’s a simple suggestion, but by encouraging your child to breathe through his nose during his office visit, he’ll shift his focus to something he can readily control.

• Distraction: Stress balls, soothing music, or holding a small, beloved stuffed animal during a visit can take your child’s mind off matters and help him relax.

• Desensitization: Encouraging your child to brush her tongue as part of her daily oral care can not only improve oral hygiene but also help her become more desensitized to objects at the back of her throat.

Consider Acupressure

A traditional Chinese medical treatment, acupressure employs using one’s fingers to apply pressure to certain strategic points on the body to trigger a positive physical response—think acupuncture but without the pesky needles! One way to squelch a gag reflex through acupressure is to apply pressure to the Hegu point, the soft, fleshy point between the thumb and index finger. Have your child give it a try. If he succeeds in relieving his gag reflex, he’ll not only feel better but may be less anxious about visiting the dentist as well.

We’re Here to Help!

At Pearly Whites Dental Care, your local dentist serving Bucks County, we want to do more than care for your child’s smile. We want to ensure she can always look forward to a comfortable, anxiety-free dental experience. If your child has a hypersensitive gag reflex, give us a call at 215-274-0891 to discuss the best options.