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A fear of gagging keeps me out of the dentist chair

In a study published by the American Dental Association on the epidemiology of gagging during dental treatment, it found that almost half of the study's 478 participants reported gagging on at least one occasion during dental visits. In addition, 7.5 percent of participants reported almost always or always gagging.

The study showed that because of the high frequency of problems with gagging, patients were more likely to have greater levels of dental care-related fear, fear of pain and increased negative beliefs about dental professionals and dental treatment.*

We spoke with a patient of Dr. Jonathan L. Ferencz who has a severe gagging reflex. So bad that that it kept him out of the dentist office until it was absolutely necessary.

You have a problem with gagging at the dentist?

"That would be an understatement. I have a severe gag reflex – if that's the technical name. The goop, or even the thought of the goop, has basically kept me out of the (dentist) chair until it was unbearable.

When I would come to the dentist, I would say that I needed, borderline, sedation.

I'm 61 years old. I've been getting crowns for almost twenty years now. So it's been during this time, these last 20 years, that it has really been a struggle.

Although, even as a child, I had braces, but they had to take them off because I couldn't stand it. When they were putting the brackets on the back of my teeth I was ready to be sick."

What does it feel like?

"I feel like I am going to throw up when there's something touching the top of my mouth.

So is it different now with TRIOS® – an intraoral scanner?

"This last time I was scheduled to get a crown, Dr. (Jonathan L.) Ferencz told me that they would not need to do an impression. He told me about the scanner.

It was a longer visit because we did the whole thing in one day. He did the scanning and planning and then there was maybe a two hour interval. And then he put the crown in. I don't remember exactly, but it was bearable and I could plan my day around it.**

Having the scanner in my mouth didn't bother me. It was fine.

The problem for me is having the goop or tray in my mouth. When it hits the top of my palette I begin to gag.

The scanner (TRIOS) didn't affect me. Nor did Dr. Ferencz's hands – they didn't bother me. It was painless.

I didn't really notice him starting or stopping scanning but he is a professional, so I'm sure he must have stopped if I needed it. He's great."

So intraoral scanning eliminated your gagging?

"I think the whole procedure was a real advance. It (the crown) was a perfect fit and I haven't noticed any discomfort or anything.

I have had gold crowns, I've had all types. This is definitely the best and the easiest!"

Related stories:

*Gagging and its associations with dental care-related fear, fear of pain and beliefs about treatment –

**dentaltown story on CAD/CAM as a marketing tool for practices –