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Most dental patients experience a mild level of anxiety when visiting the dental office. For the patient with a severe gag reflex, that anxiety level can increase considerably. If you have a strong gag reflex, you may be avoiding the dentist as a result. Unfortunately, avoidance can only lead to serious dental problems.

At Aesthetic & Implant Dentistry of Atlanta, we can help you address gag reflex issues with specialized dentistry. No matter how severe your gagging problem may seem, we are here to help get it under control. Our dental team wants you to get the oral care you need to have a bright, healthy smile.

Causes of Severe Gag Reflex

The body has innate defense mechanisms to keep it safe and healthy. Among these is the gag reflex, or pharyngeal reflex. This system is designed to prevent foreign objects from entering the throat and blocking the airway. Everybody’s gag reflex is different. Some individuals do not seem to have one at all, while others are very sensitive.

An over-active gag reflex can have psychological or physical origins. Psychological factors can contribute to an already sensitive gag reflex or cause one to develop. Past trauma or issues with gagging while in the dental chair can make the problem worse. The anxiety caused by the stress of being in the dental chair can also trigger gagging.

Treating the Patient with Severe Gag Reflex

There are several ways of addressing severe gag reflex. Lowering the chances of gagging can be accomplished by implementing these steps:

  • Concentrate on breathing through your nose. It is understandable that when your mouth is open for a dental procedure, you would want to breathe through it. However, this is also one of the top gag reflex triggers. Breathing through your nose will lessen the chance of gagging.
  • Use the aspirator. Most dentists will have a little suction device called an aspirator which vacuums the saliva and debris from your mouth. Instead of trying to swallow your saliva, use the aspirator.
  • Desensitize your gag reflex. Before your dental appointment, you can implement a desensitizing regime to lessen the severity of your gag reflex. This is done by identifying the place on your tongue that triggers your gag reflex. When you brush your teeth, take a few seconds to brush in that trigger area. Do this regularly, moving your brush back a little more as you become more desensitized. Over a period of weeks, you will find that your gag-reflex is not as sensitive.
  • Use distraction. One of the triggers for severe gag-reflex is thinking about it. Distract yourself so your mind is not focused on whether or not you are going to gag. Changing your focus can lower the incidence of gagging.

At AIDA, we can also help lower the chances of gagging by listening to your concerns and addressing them. We can discuss the accommodations we can make to help reduce your chances of gagging while receiving dental care. Your comfort and oral health are of the utmost importance to us at AIDA. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.

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What Our Patients Says
Aesthetic and Implant Dentistry of Atlanta

4.9 / 5

Based on 136 reviews

Dr. Zelby was recommended to me by both my dentist and periodontist. I could not agree more. the kindness, caring, and professionalism that I experienced at Aesthetic & Implant Dentistry of Atlanta is above and beyond. I highly recommend Dr. Zelby, his assistants, and the staff. I couldn't be happier with my new teeth and wish I had done this years ago! five stars to you guys

Catherine W.

Everything about my experience was enjoyable. I felt like the practice used all of the most advanced and best technology out there which gave me a wonderful feeling of confidence. They were very professional and straight forward and I have never had a better dentistry experience. I'd highly recommend checking them out if you're looking for a new dentist. They're friendly and efficient and they really do know what they're doing there.

Meghan D.

Dr Zelby has been my dentist now for almost 17 years. Not only is he a really nice person, his dentistry is completely top notch. If you need any restorations, I don't think that there is another place to even consider. You'll be amazed with his work!

Brian S.

Dr. Levine was great, and Dr. Zelby stopped by and answered some questions I had about sheering forces on enamel. They were both very friendly, and the hygenist (whose name I forget, unfortunately) gave one of the most thorough cleanings I've ever had. The office was clean, the devices all seem shiny and well maintained, and overall it was a great experience

Benjamin S.

After going to another dentist, doctor Zelby was able to fix my front two teeth so that the front two teeth were back to the same length and color. I'm so thankful he was able to make them look normal again. Dr. Zelby and his staff are so pleasant to be around as well. I highly recommend this office if you have a major problem with your teeth that need to be fixed. He can get it done and he will make sure you are happy.

Carrie G.

I had been going to the same dentist for many years and switched to Aesthetic and Implant recently. My experience with Dr Levine was incredible. I cannot be happier with the decision I made. The cleaning and other services I received were well above and beyond any other I have ever had. Highly recommend this practice to everyone!

Matthew G.

Couldn't be happier! Absolutely worth the travel time. Dr Zelby is without doubt the best - caring, knowledgeable, reassuring and very professional. Couldn't ask for better dentistry. Staff also very competent and professional. Beautiful, clean environment

Diane W.

Megan is the best dental hygienist I’ve ever had. She does a phenomenal job keeping your teeth clean, is super nice, and makes you feel right at home. The whole staff is very friendly and I couldn’t recommend this place enough!

Vincent C.

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Visit Our Office
Cobb Galleria Office Complex, Building 200, Suite 1830


200 Galleria Pkwy SE, Suite 1830
Atlanta, GA 30339

Phone: (770) 955-0550

Opening Hours

Monday 9AM – 5PM
Tuesday 9AM – 5PM
Wednesday 9AM – 3PM
Thursday 9AM – 5PM
Friday 9AM – 4PM

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