How the Gag Reflex Works

One of the reasons why people seek out sedation dentistry is to calm their strong gag reflex. Having a strong gag reflex can make dental treatment very unpleasant. After all, the dentist and hygienist are constantly putting their hands and tools into your mouth. They have to reach all the way back to properly work on your teeth. (And if you don’t reach back too far when brushing thanks to your gag reflex, then your dentist or hygienist has to work back there a lot!)

But you don’t have to be sedated to deal with gagging. NuCalm can help control your gag reflex without drugs.

NuCalm Technology in the Dental Office

How the Gag Reflex Works

The gag reflex, also called the pharyngeal reflex, is designed to keep us from choking. As such, it’s your body’s response to nonfood or too large objects entering the mouth or throat. It is designed to work automatically to protect us. Unfortunately, that means that it’s very hard to control the gag reflex. You can’t generally wish yourself to not gag.

The gag reflex is triggered when certain sensitive areas of the mouth or throat are touched. These areas vary by individual, but most often they include the soft palate, the back of the tongue, the tonsils, the uvula, and the back of the throat. How much of a touch is required also varies among individuals. A person whose gag reflex triggers with minimal touch is described as having a “strong” gag reflex. Other times, a person is said to have a “strong” gag reflex if they are more likely to retch or vomit. Some people–perhaps as many as  one in three–have no gag reflex at all.

When the relevant areas are touched, a signal passes from the touched area to the spine, where the reflex action is processed. At the spine, two different signals are sent out, one to the muscles to trigger the reflex action and the other to the brain to tell it about the touch.

This is why you can’t really control the gag reflex. By the time your brain knows about the touch, the muscles are already acting.

In the case of a gag reflex, the muscles that act are the muscles at the back of the throat, which contract to push any potential objects away from the throat to the front of the mouth.

How NuCalm Controls the Gag Reflex

In order to trigger the gag reflex, your body will activate both parts of the autonomic nervous system, the sympathetic and parasympathetic. NuCalm works to control the autonomic nervous system and prevents these spikes in activity. The gag reflex is still functional, but it’s diminished.

That way, even people who normally have a very strong gag reflex can get treatment at the dentist without gagging.

If you are looking for a dentist who can help you enjoy gag-free treatment, please contact a local NuCalm dentist today.

By |September 14th, 2017|Feel Better, Live Better, Perform Better, Reflex|