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Int J Prosthodont. 2001 Jul-Aug;14(4):364-6.

Gagging prevention using nitrous oxide or table salt: a comparative pilot study.

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Prosthodontics Department, School of Dentistry, Lebanese University, Beirut, Lebanon.



The objective of this study was to compare two methods for reducing gagging induced by stimulation of the soft palate: table salt and nitrous oxide inhalation sedation.


Fifteen healthy volunteers, eight men and seven women with a mean age of 20.6 years, were subjected to a gagging event three times using a large tablespoon to stimulate the soft palate: event 1 = spoon alone, event 2 = spoon and table salt on the tip of the tongue with a 30-minute break between events 1 and 2, and event 3 = spoon and nitrous oxide sedation on another day. Time in seconds was measured from the moment the spoon touched the soft palate until gagging was felt using a chronometer held by the subject.


The mean time for eliciting the gagging reaction was 7.7 seconds for the spoon alone, 8.9 seconds for the spoon and table salt, and 24.0 seconds for the nitrous oxide sedation. Nitrous oxide inhalation sedation significantly (P < .001) reduced the gagging/retching reaction, whereas there was no significant time difference in gagging reaction between stimulation with the spoon alone or when table salt was added.


Within the limits of this study, table salt did not seem to reduce the time to triggering the gag reflex, whereas nitrous oxide had a substantial effect.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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