why do mouthguards make me gag

why do mouthguards make me gag

Why Do Mouthguards Make Me Gag?

Mouthguards are commonly used in sports activities, especially contact sports, to protect the teeth, gums, and jaw from injuries. However, some individuals may experience a gag reflex when wearing a mouthguard. This can be uncomfortable and may affect performance. In this article, we will explore various reasons why mouthguards can make some people gag.

1. Size and Fit

The size and fit of a mouthguard can greatly influence whether it triggers a gag reflex. If a mouthguard is too large or too small for the individual’s mouth, it can cause discomfort and stimulate the gag reflex. The material used in the mouthguard can also play a role in how it fits and feels in the mouth.

Additionally, if the mouthguard is not properly molded or adjusted to fit the individual’s teeth and gums, it can create pressure points or uneven distribution of force, leading to discomfort and gagging.

2. Thickness and Bulkiness

The thickness and bulkiness of a mouthguard can also contribute to gagging. Some mouthguards are designed to provide maximum protection by being thicker and bulkier. While this may offer better protection, it can also trigger the gag reflex, particularly for individuals with a sensitive gag reflex or smaller mouths.

Thin or low-profile mouthguards may be more comfortable for individuals who experience gagging, as they take up less space in the mouth and are less likely to stimulate the gag reflex.

3. Salivation and Moisture

Wearing a mouthguard can increase salivation, especially during physical activities. Excessive salivation can accumulate in the mouthguard, causing a feeling of fullness and triggering the gag reflex. Additionally, the moisture from saliva can affect the texture and fit of the mouthguard, making it more likely to induce gagging.

Properly cleaning and drying the mouthguard before use can help reduce the accumulation of saliva and moisture, minimizing the likelihood of gagging.

4. Psychological Factors

Psychological factors can also contribute to gagging while wearing a mouthguard. Some individuals may have a fear or anxiety associated with wearing something in their mouth, which can trigger the gag reflex. This psychological discomfort can be challenging to overcome and may require gradual desensitization techniques or professional guidance.

5. Breathing Difficulties

A poorly fitting mouthguard can interfere with proper breathing, especially through the mouth. This can lead to discomfort, a sense of suffocation, and an increased likelihood of gagging. It is crucial to ensure that the mouthguard allows for unobstructed airflow to prevent these issues.

why do mouthguards make me gag

6. Nasal Congestion

Nasal congestion or allergies can affect the ability to breathe through the nose, forcing individuals to rely on mouth breathing. When wearing a mouthguard, the combination of restricted airflow and mouth breathing can contribute to gagging. Managing nasal congestion or using nasal decongestants can help alleviate this issue.

7. Sensory Sensitivity

Some individuals have heightened sensory sensitivity, particularly in the mouth and throat area. The sensation of wearing a mouthguard can be overwhelming for these individuals, leading to a gag reflex. Gradual exposure and desensitization techniques can help reduce the sensitivity and improve comfort.

8. Improper Insertion and Removal

Improper insertion or removal of a mouthguard can cause discomfort and trigger the gag reflex. If the mouthguard is not positioned correctly or if it is forcefully removed, it can stimulate the sensitive areas in the mouth and throat, leading to gagging. Proper instruction and practice on how to insert and remove the mouthguard can help prevent this issue.


Gagging while wearing a mouthguard can be a frustrating experience, but understanding the various factors that contribute to it can help find solutions. It is essential to choose a properly fitted mouthguard, consider the thickness and bulkiness, manage salivation and moisture, address psychological factors, ensure unobstructed breathing, manage nasal congestion, and address sensory sensitivity. With the right approach and adjustments, individuals can find a mouthguard that offers protection without triggering the gag reflex.

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