A pronounced gag reflex can be a severe limitation to a person’s ability to accept dental care and for a clinician's ability to provide it. It can compromise all aspects of dental care from diagnostic procedures to treatment and can be distressing for all concerned. Many things have been tried to reduce it, most without much success.
So I was very interested to see a new study showing that a skinny acupuncture needle inserted at a point that the Chinese call Chengjiang (Ren or Conception Vessel 24) which lies just below the middle of the bottom lip, is an effective method of controlling the gag reflex. Members of the British Dental Acupuncture Society took part in a patient audit. The patients had two upper dental alginate impressions taken (or attempted), one before and one after acupuncture at that point. Before the acupuncture, none of the 37 patients was able to tolerate the procedure, however after acupuncture there was a mean improvement of 53% in measures of gag severity at all stages of the impression taking process. 81% of patients were able to accept the impression taking after acupuncture.
This research will need to be confirmed in a controlled study, but this initial result does not surprise me: I have seen how effective this simple treatment can be.
And as we have said before, good dental care is not just about protecting your pearly whites. Sick teeth and gums can give you a very sick body.