When wearing a mouthguard, one of the biggest complaints athletes have is that the guard makes them gag. Particularly true for those who deal with gag reflex issues. Gagging of any kind is going to be uncomfortable, and it’s certainly something players don’t want to experience on the gridiron, court or ice.
Nxtrnd Mouthguards understands how debilitating your gag reflex issues can be. However, we believe that this problem has a simple solution. When a mouthguard makes a player gag, something is clearly wrong with the mouthguard they are using.
This article will detail the 2 main causes behind mouthguards that trigger the gag reflex, plus, look at the type of mouthguard you should be considering if this is a regular issue for you.
The gag reflex (also known as a laryngeal spasm) is a natural contraction of the back throat region caused when something touches; the roof of the mouth, the back of the tongue, the area around the tonsils, the uvula, and the back of the throat. This reflex prevents unwanted objects from entering the throat and helps prevent choking. (WedMD)
A common myth about sport mouthguards is that they must completely cover the upper teeth and reach all the way to the back of the mouth. But that is actually false and is part of the reason why mouthguards cause gagging.
The first question you should ask yourself is: is the materal cut too high or too long causing unwanted material where it is not needed? In this case, the mouthguard comes in contact with what is called the soft palate — the fleshy, flexible region toward the back of the roof of the mouth leading into the gag reflex.
In order to avoid triggering the gag reflex, provide better protection and comfort, the players mouthguard must end between the end of the first molar and midway through the second. In fact, protective material in the soft palate region actually provides no protection from injury which is why material in this region is useless and should be avoided. Any additional material surpassing the molars, creates an uncomfortable experience and provides minimal additional protection. That being said, a properly cut mouthguard is always a better choice.