Dental Impressions Without Gagging: 8 Ways to Make Patient Comfortable

by | Feb 9, 2021 | Dental Tips

Only the people with strong gag reflexes will understand how stressful it can be to sit through a dentist’s appointment and get dental impressions without gagging. It’s not that dental impression is an elaborate or risky operation, but still, the very thought of the impression tray put inside the mouth makes some patients anxious, which instantly triggers the gag reflex.

Every human being has a unique oral structure. So taking dental impressions is the first necessary step to design a close replica of your mouth.

Just in case you are procrastinating on your next visit to the dentist, let me assure you, it doesn’t have to be so scary. If you need suggestions on how to get rid of the gag reflex, stay with us till the end of this article, and you will indeed feel more confident.


getting dental impressions without gagging


What Are Dental Impressions?

If you have been to a dentist’s office a few times or have some genetic dental issues, you have already experienced a dental impression. This is a very commonplace procedure, performed to create a mold of your teeth and oral tissue. This impression of the mouth is later used to form the shape of a crown or a bridge to fit the anatomy of a patient’s oral cavity perfectly.

Whether it’s a cracked or broken tooth or some kind of oral or maxillofacial surgery, impressions are a must. It is the first step in creating crowns, bridges, dentures, veneers, mouth guards, retainers, and so on.

Impression trays are designed to cover either half or full of the maxillary or mandibular arch. Liquid materials like alginate or polyvinyl siloxane are poured into the tray depending on the texture of the model – rigid or supple.

Why Is It Important to Have A Good Impression?

Though getting a dental impression is a matter of a couple of minutes, it can have a long-lasting effect if gone wrong. Accuracy of the impression is the sole concern to achieve befitting prosthetic teeth. A poor impression will only produce a misshapen replica causing serious inconveniences and fitting issues.

Talking of inconvenience, you may feel minor discomfort during the process if you have a highly sensitive gag reflex.

What Is A Gag Reflex?

The gag reflex is a bodily defense mechanism to prevent choking. When anything other than air, liquid, or food touches the upper respiratory tract, the muscles near the tonsil area contract out of a reflex to stop any foreign object from entering the trachea or esophagus.

As the impression tray is inserted in your mouth and touches the soft palate, your body will fight back. The viscous impression material might also ooze out to the back of your throat, triggering the gag reflex.

Gag response may be a reason for anxiety, making the whole dental impression process even tenser for a patient.

Getting Dental Impressions Without Gagging

Unexpected as it may sound, there are ways to reduce gag response while getting a dental impression done. You may talk to your dentist or resort to some self-remedies that will reduce gagging to a great extent, if not completely.


dentist and patient talking


Things You Can Do

Talk To Your Dentist

If your dentist is informed beforehand about the gag reflex issue, they could take some precautionary steps or tricks to make the process more pleasant for you. Talk to them. The more you learn about the procedure, the better your chances to go through the situation smoothly.

Breathe Through Your Nose

Have you noticed how deep breaths can calm your nerves when you have anxiety? The same goes here. Take long, deep breaths through your nose, and before you know, it’s done. Diaphragmatic breathing can be very beneficial in relaxing your mind and body.

Use Snore Relief Spray

If you have nasal congestion, you won’t be able to breathe through the nose. Make sure to carry a decongestant and apply it before sitting. Also, there are nasal strips that will help you to cease snoring and keep the airways clear.

Try not to Swallow, Rather Drool

Yes, I can understand it’s not the most elegant or constructive solution. But you are bound to salivate with an impression tray put in your open mouth. And if you swallow, it will cause a negative impact on your gag reflex.

Instead, let it drool. Drooling will tone down the gagging. Don’t feel embarrassed. Dentists are used to this, and they will provide tissues and dental bibs for wiping off.

Keep Your Hypothalamus Busy

Hypothalamus is a small region in our brain that controls hunger, thirst, emotions, daily physiological activities, and also the gag reflex. So if we can send other signals to this part, it can lower the gag reflex’s intensity for some time.

See what you can try to keep your mind away from the mouth:

  • Practice acupressure. Make a fist and squeeze your thumb with other fingers
  • Squeeze a stress ball or a gel-filled cold pack
  • Murmur a song lyrics in your mind
  • Turn the television on if there is access


sedation dentistry


What Your Dentist Can Do?

Provide Comfort By Talking To You

This is the kind of situation when a dentist can implement their storytelling skill. It will be simply fantastic if your dental professional is friendly and happy to chat with you. It should not hamper their focus, but see if they can distract you with a fun story or give you some hints on what’s about to happen next.

Let the Patient Sit Up Rather Than Laydown

The dentist should make sure that the patient is sitting straight up and tilting their head forward. In this way, the ooze will much likely dribble from the mouth rather than being gulped down.

Use Some Form Of Sedation

Nitrous oxide or laughing gas has been proven to be very effective in reducing gag reflex. If you have severe gag reflex issues, check with your dental professional if they can provide this remedy.


Now you know how to stop the gag reflex and feel much stronger to overcome the fear of gagging. Are you by any chance looking for an expert team of dental professionals to take care of your oral health? Then why don’t you pay a visit to Laguna Vista Dental? Their cooperative atmosphere and amiable staff will vanish all your phobias like magic. Book an appointment through their website today, and keep that smile on your face happy and healthy!

Krystle Fenton

Krystle Fenton

Krystle Fenton is the owner and lead dentist at Laguna Vista Dental in Elk Grove, CA. Dr. She has earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology with a minor in Chemistry from Andrews University. She then went on to Loma Linda University School of Dentistry, where she graduated with honors and is a member of the prestigious Omicron Kappa Upsilon (OKU) National Dental Honor Society. Dr. Fenton is a member of the American Dental Association, California Dental Association, and Sacramento District Dental Society. In her time away from the office, Dr. Fenton enjoys spending time with friends and family, traveling, spending time outdoors and watching movies.

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