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Study links gagging to dental anxiety during treatment

By Dental Tribune International
May 05, 2014

MORGANTOWN, W.Va., USA: Gagging is a prevalent problem in dental practice. However, little is known about what causes the unpleasant reflex during dental treatment. Now, a new study has suggested that gagging may be related to dental care-related fear and fear of pain.

In the study, researchers at the West Virginia University recruited 487 patients from the waiting area of an oral diagnosis clinic to complete a gagging behavior questionnaire.

Almost 50 percent of the participants reported gagging on at least one occasion during dental visits, and 7.5 percent reported almost always or always gagging. The researchers found that patients with a higher frequency of gagging also experienced greater levels of dental care-related fear, fear of pain, and more negative beliefs about dental professionals and dental treatment.

The authors recommend that dentists assess patients' susceptibility to gagging, which can be a barrier to treatment. Clinicians should also address anxiety in patients who often gag when receiving dental care to reduce gagging frequency or intensity, and to render treatment more comfortable for patients.

The study, titled "Gagging and its Associations With Dental Care–Related Fear, Fear of Pain and Beliefs About Treatment," was published in the May issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association.

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