You know that wearing an athletic mouthguard helps to protect your teeth during sports. In many cases, a mouthguard is even a required piece of your sporting equipment. But every time you put your mouthguard in, you gag. Gagging is a very uncomfortable experience and obviously doesn’t help your athletic performance. The good news is that, with the correct mouthguard, you can avoid triggering the gag reflex while still protecting your teeth.
What is the Gag Reflex?The gag reflex, also known as the pharyngeal reflex, is a natural contraction of the back of the throat to prevent a foreign body from entering the throat. This reflex is often triggered by an object touching the soft palate (roof of your mouth), the back of the tongue, your tonsils, or the back of the throat. When your brain identifies something in the mouth that could be harmful, it triggers this reflex, thrusting the object back toward the opening of your mouth.
Your mouthguard shouldn’t make you gag and, if it does, chances are it doesn’t fit right. Visit SportingSmiles today to learn how you can get a high-quality, custom-fit guard and end gagging.
In infants, this reflex is constantly triggered until around the age of six or seven months, when a baby’s stomach is able to digest more solid food. As you age, this reflex diminishes, only being triggered when something large enters the throat. Unfortunately, some people have a hypersensitive gag reflex. With this, you may experience gagging when any object triggers these sensitive areas, including a mouthguard.
How Do Mouthguards Trigger the Gag Reflex?
A properly fitting mouthguard should cover and protect the teeth, arch, and surrounding tissue in the mouth. It should have an adequate thickness in all areas and should fit snuggly. A poor-fitting mouthguard is easily dislodged, increasing the risk of gagging and reducing the protection level. An improperly fitting mouthguard can contribute to an increased gag reflex in two main ways:
- Mouthguard is too long or too high – If your mouthguard is too big or too long, it runs the risk of coming into contact with the soft palate, triggering the gag reflex. In addition, this extra material can make the mouthguard uncomfortable and affect how it fits, making it less likely to stay in place and provide the correct level of protection. Your mouthguard should be cut between the end of the first molar and midway through the second. This reduces gagging and provides the correct level of protection.
- Material thickness – The old saying “bigger is better” is not the case when it comes to mouthguards. According to the Academy for Sports Dentistry, mouthguard material should be at least 3mm thickness in the occlusal and labial areas. If a mouthguard is too thick, it can make speaking and breathing difficult, as well as contribute to gagging.
Custom Mouthguards Help to Minimize Gagging
When your mouthguard makes you gag, there is something wrong with your mouthguard. Gagging issues happen most often with stock or boil and bite mouthguards. While these guards provide minimal protection, they simply do not fit correctly. While boil and bite options allow for some customization, but their design works with everyone. For this reason, a correct fit is near impossible. Material is often too thick or comes into contact with the soft palate, triggering the gag reflex.
If you experience gagging when wearing your mouthguard, it may be time to consider a custom-fit guard. By matching the guard directly to your teeth and bite ensures the proper fit, as well as keeps the material away from areas that can trigger the gag reflex.
Unfortunately, custom-fit mouthguards from your dentist can be costly. This is why many athletes opt for the less expensive boil and bite options. However, a custom-made mouthguard is less expensive than the cost of repairing dental injuries, often costing more than $5000. And, if you suffer from a serious gag reflex, a custom mouthguard can make all the difference.
SportingSmiles understands the importance of a high-quality mouthguard and we have you covered. By taking advantage of our patented self-impression kit, you make your own mold and our dental technicians make your mouthguard, reducing the cost of custom-fit mouthguards from your dentist. This makes it more economical to give you the protection you need as well as prevent you from gagging. For more information, visit Athletic Mouth Guards today.