If your small child tends to gag when it's time to brush their teeth, they likely have a gag reflex. Fortunately, there's something you can do to keep your child from gagging so their teeth can be brushed. However, it's important to have your child evaluated by their pediatrician to determine if there is a medical problem causing the gag reflex. Here's what you need to know.
Signs & causes of a gag reflex
The signs of a gag reflex are quite obvious and need little explanation to those who have seen or experienced it first-hand. Essentially, a person with a gag reflex will gag whenever something is close to their throat. Sometimes, the gag reflex can be strong enough to cause the person to vomit or come close to it. Sometimes, the person may gag on medication or have problems with chewy or hard food.
A gag reflex can be caused by medical conditions, such as an enlarged adenoid or a Chiari malformation. An enlarged adenoid can cause the upper airway to be restricted, which can lead to a gag reflex. The surgical removal of the enlarged adenoids will likely be recommended if this is the case.
Chiari malformation is located in the skull at the base of the brain. This malformation can put pressure on the nerves in the brain stem that are responsible for autonomic functioning such as swallowing and breathing, which can present itself as a gag reflex at first. Treatment for this condition is a serious brain surgery. Therefore, it is crucial to have your child evaluated by their pediatrician to determine what the cause of the gag reflex is, first and foremost.
How to deal with a gag reflex & teeth brushing
After you've determined the cause of your child's gag reflex, you may need to help your child find relief from their gag reflex in order for basic tasks of daily living to be performed, such as teeth brushing. Fortunately, a compounding pharmacy can develop tablets or lozenges that can be given to your child several minutes before it's time to brush their teeth.
These intraoral compounded medications are formulated to suppress the gag reflex and contain electrolytes. Since the usage will be to suppress your child's gag reflex before brushing their teeth, be sure to ask the compounding pharmacist for a flavor-friendly formulation that will work great with the specific flavoring of your child's toothpaste. Contact a pharmacy like Camelback Compounding Pharmacy to learn more.