Comfort can be a primary concern for some athletes who wear mouthguards as part of their sport, and this is particularly true for those who deal with gag reflex issues. A sports mouthguard is far less effective if it’s triggering a gag reflex on a regular basis, as it is likely to go unworn. A solution must be found.
At Damage Control Mouthguards, we offer an array of custom mouthguard options that are suitable for people with sensitive gag reflexes. What causes mouthguards to trigger the gag reflex? What type of mouthguard should you be considering if this is a regular issue for you? Let’s explore those questions!
Factors in Mouthguards Causing Gagging
Many mistakenly believe that all sport mouthguards must completely cover all upper teeth all the way to the back. This isn’t actually the case – and this myth is often the cause of issues with the gag reflex. Generally speaking, there are two primary reasons mouthguards cause your gag reflex to trigger:
- Length or height of material: The most common cause of this issue is mouthguard material that’s too long or too high in the mouth. In these cases, the mouthguard risks contact with what’s called the soft palate – the fleshy skin section toward the back of your mouth that most people would call the roof of the mouth, leading into the gag reflex. Not only does material that contacts the soft palate risk triggering the gag reflex, it also provides no actual protection from injury either. So what’s the ideal length of a mouthguard? A mouthguard cut between the end of the first molar and midway through the second will actually provide better protection, plus won’t lead to gagging.
- Material thickness: A mouthguard that’s too thick will lead to gagging. On top of this, it can also make it difficult for wearers to open and close their mouth properly, to speak or even breathe. When these issues progress into swallowing concerns, the gag reflex is often among the first signs.
Boil-and-Bite Vs. Custom Mouthguards
In many situations, gag reflex issues take place in boil-and-bite mouthguards. These mouthguards, while often excellent and affordable options for many, are designed to be “molded” using boiling water and some basic chewing – but they simply can never fit as well as a true custom mouthguard. For many people, especially those with unique mouth shapes, the soft palate may be contacted or the material may be too thick, triggering gag reflex.
With a custom mouthguard, this is no longer a concern. Custom options allow for trimming that will prevent any triggering of the gag reflex, all while providing you with high-quality protection for the entire mouth.