Excessive Gag Reflex, Dental Anxiety, and Phobia of Vomiting in Dental Care

Nir Uziel*, Efrat Gilon, Idan Bar, Naftaly Edri, Ilana Eli

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The most known and commonly studied behavioral obstacle to dental care is dental anxiety. An obstacle that is less studied though no less problematic is excessive gag reflex, which can severely impede dental treatment. Another understudied and possibly related syndrome is emetophobia (a specific phobia of vomiting). Objective: The aim of this study was to examine possible comorbidity amongst self-reported emetophobia, dental anxiety, and excessive gagging in the dental office. Methods: A cross-sectional online survey was conducted using the following self-report questionnaires: Dental Anxiety Scale, Gagging Problem Assessment, Gagging Assessment Scale (GAS), and Specific Phobia of Vomiting Inventory (SPOVI). Results: In all, 164 participants fully completed the questionnaires (87.8% female; mean age, 34 ± 11.07 years). Positive correlations were found amongst all variables (P < .001). High gagging (GAS > 6) was associated with a 7.29 times (P < .000) greater risk of positive emetophobia (SPOVI ≥ 10). Linear regression analyses revealed that the intensity of the reflex and the experience of gagging upon encountering odours in the dental office as well as dental anxiety and vomiting phobia significantly predicted participants’ gagging scores as evaluated by GAS (R2 = 0.59; F = 21.16; P < .001). Conclusions: The study shows that excessive gagging reflex in the dental office is closely related both to dental anxiety and to emetophobia.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Dental Journal
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • DAS
  • Dental anxiety
  • Emetophobia
  • Gag reflex
  • Vomiting


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