Overcoming Gag Reflex with Sleep Mouthpieces

Last updated: August 22nd, 2023

Top 3 Strategies to Stop Gagging on a Mouthpiece When Sleeping

1. Gradual Acclimatization: Begin by wearing the mouthpiece for short periods during the day while you're awake. This gradual exposure helps your mouth and throat become accustomed to the sensation, reducing the likelihood of triggering the gag reflex.

Over time, gradually increase the duration of wear to build tolerance.

2. Relaxation Techniques: Incorporate relaxation techniques before wearing the mouthpiece.

Deep breathing exercises, mindfulness, or meditation can help calm your nerves and reduce muscle tension. This relaxed state can minimize the sensitivity of your gag reflex, making it easier to insert and wear the mouthpiece comfortably.

3. Distraction and Focus Shifting: Engage in activities that divert your attention while inserting the mouthpiece. For instance, you can listen to calming music or practice mental imagery.

By focusing on something other than the mouthpiece, you can reduce the anxiety and sensitivity that contribute to triggering the gag reflex.


Sleep mouthpieces ("snoring mouthpieces") have become a game-changer for individuals seeking relief from snoring and sleep apnea.

However, for some, the journey to a quiet night's sleep can be hindered by a hypersensitive gag reflex. In this in-depth guide, we will delve into the intricacies of the gag reflex, explore advanced strategies to conquer it while using sleep mouthpieces, and offer practical tips to ensure a comfortable and rejuvenating sleep experience.

Understanding the Gag Reflex

The gag reflex, a natural survival mechanism, is triggered when certain areas in the mouth and throat are stimulated.

It's our body's way of preventing foreign objects from entering the airway and choking us. While it's crucial for our safety, some individuals possess an overly sensitive gag reflex, which can complicate activities like wearing sleep mouthpieces.

Challenges of Gag Reflex with Sleep Mouthpieces

Using sleep mouthpieces requires overcoming this protective reflex, especially when the device interacts with the tongue, palate, and throat.

The sensation of a foreign object in the mouth can stimulate the gag reflex, leading to discomfort and making it challenging to wear sleep mouthpieces consistently.

Selecting the Right Sleep Mouthpiece

Investing time in selecting the appropriate sleep mouthpiece can make a substantial difference. Customization is key—opt for devices that can be tailored to your mouth's dimensions.

Custom-made mouthpieces, often provided by dental professionals, can offer a superior fit and minimize the risk of triggering the gag reflex. Consulting a dentist or sleep specialist will help you make an informed decision.

Gradual Acclimatization: The Gentle Approach

One effective approach to overcome the gag reflex is gradual acclimatization.

Begin by wearing the sleep mouthpiece for brief periods during the day while you're awake. This method allows your mouth and throat to gradually adjust to the sensation of the device. Over time, extend the duration of wear until you can comfortably keep it in place for an entire night.

Relaxation Techniques for Success

Incorporating relaxation techniques into your routine can significantly ease the challenge posed by the gag reflex.

Deep breathing exercises, combined with mindfulness, can help calm your nerves and reduce muscle tension. By practicing these techniques before inserting the sleep mouthpiece, you create a conducive environment for a smoother insertion process.

Desensitization and Repetition: Building Tolerance

Desensitization involves a process of repetition and gradual exposure. Start by gently placing the mouthpiece near the back of your throat and immediately removing it.

Repeatedly practice this technique, slowly increasing the depth of insertion as you become more comfortable. Over time, your body may become less responsive to the sensation, reducing the intensity of the gag reflex.

Applying Numbing Agents: A Temporary Solution

Before using numbing agents, it's essential to consult a healthcare professional.

Mild numbing sprays or gels can temporarily reduce the sensitivity of the gag reflex. These products can be applied to the back of the throat before inserting the sleep mouthpiece.

However, it's crucial to use them under the guidance of a professional to ensure their safety and effectiveness.

Seeking Expert Advice

If the gag reflex remains stubbornly unyielding despite your efforts, seeking guidance from a dentist or sleep specialist is a prudent step. These professionals can assess your unique situation, offer tailored advice, and ensure that a sleep mouthpiece is the right solution for your snoring or sleep apnea concerns.


The journey to overcoming the gag reflex while using a sleep mouthpiece requires commitment and patience.

By meticulously choosing the right mouthpiece, gradually acclimatizing, practicing relaxation techniques, and seeking professional input when necessary, you can unlock the door to restful sleep without the discomfort of an intrusive reflex.

While it might seem like a challenging endeavor, remember that the rewards—uninterrupted sleep and revitalized mornings—are more than worth the effort. As you embark on this path, embrace the prospect of a tranquil night's sleep and wake up ready to embrace each day with energy and enthusiasm.

FAQs - Overcoming Gag Reflex with Sleep Mouthpieces

1. Why does my mouthguard make me gag when I sleep? Gagging while using a mouthguard during sleep can be attributed to the stimulation of your sensitive gag reflex. The presence of a foreign object in your mouth, even if it's a sleep mouthguard, can trigger this reflex, causing discomfort and the urge to retch.

2. Why does my mouthpiece make me gag? Similar to a mouthguard, a mouthpiece can trigger the gag reflex due to its contact with areas at the back of the mouth and throat. The sensation of the mouthpiece's presence can be interpreted by your body as a potential threat, leading to an involuntary response.

3. How do you wear a night guard without gagging? Wearing a night guard without triggering the gag reflex involves gradual acclimatization. Start by wearing the night guard for short periods during the day while awake. Gradually increase the duration over time to help your mouth and throat become accustomed to the sensation. Additionally, practicing relaxation techniques and using distraction methods can help ease the sensation of the night guard in your mouth.

4. What night guard is best for people with a gag reflex? Selecting a night guard for individuals with a sensitive gag reflex requires careful consideration. Opt for custom-made night guards provided by dental professionals. These guards are designed to fit your mouth's unique contours, reducing the likelihood of triggering the gag reflex. Discuss your concerns with a dentist who can recommend the best option based on your specific needs.

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