Saxa salt

Stops gagging

by Dr Rob Donaldson, Dental Care Carine, Duncraig, WA

I picked this trick up about eight years ago from a dental nurse who had worked for another dentist. When taking x-rays or impressions, there’s a certain percentage of people who have a very powerful gag reflex. By sprinkling a little salt on their tongue just prior to introducing anything into their mouth, it successfully inhibits that gag reflex.

What’s good about it?

I don’t know why this works. It may have something to do with sensory input overload or the cranial nerves. It might even be a psychological comfort thing or a bit of a placebo effect. It would probably make a good topic for a thesis. However there’s no doubt that it makes it a lot more comfortable for patients to tolerate a bitewing radiograph or a lower and upper impression.

I don’t use it with all patients, just those who start to heave as soon as you put something in their mouth. I tell them to imagine they’re having a margarita. While it’s not 100 per cent effective in 100 per cent of cases, it works often enough for me to keep using it. The patients who have a gag reflex problem are very grateful that such a simple thing can offer them relief so quickly.


What’s not so good?

Nothing. It’s not a gimmick—it works. And most people have salt sitting in their kitchen.


Where do you get it?

Your local supermarket.


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  1. So interesting!!! I have never heard of that but will have to try it. I hate having to get impressions done or anything life that because my gag reflexes are so bad. I will probably feel dumb putting salt in my mouth at the dentist but I really am gonna try it!


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