Here’s How to Get Rid of Your Gag Reflex, According to TikTok

What does it mean to have a gag reflex?

When a person experiences an involuntary and highly unpleasant spasm in the back of the throat, this is known as a pharyngeal or gag reflex.

It is the body’s safety mechanism to prevent potentially dangerous objects in the mouth from entering the throat. Thus, it helps prevent choking when the situation does not involve the normal process of swallowing.

How do you know you have a gag reflex?

About 37% of healthy adults do not have a gag reflex at all according to a study published in The Lancet. (1)

On the other hand, 10-15% of people have a hypersensitive response where even the slightest sensation can trigger involuntary throat contraction.

The remaining half of people have a normal response to non-swallowing sensations in the pharynx.

Suffice it to say that if you have the gag reflex, you know it as you’ve no doubt experienced its unpleasant effects at least a few times along the way!

What Triggers Gag Reflex?

Touching the back of the throat, the roof of the mouth, the back of the tongue, or the area around the tonsils is enough to trigger a gagging throat spasm in many people.

This can lead to a fear of the dentist and difficulty eating sticky foods. In severe cases, it can result in picky eating and malnourishment. One of my sisters has a hypersensitive gag reflex which causes difficulties when brushing her teeth.

The good news is that this bothersome reflex can be turned off temporarily using acupressure.

7. Use Your Hand

Perhaps the best trick for people with small mouths and sensitive gag reflexes is to get your hand involved. Your hand can do a ton of the work, and can free your mouth up to focus on the more sensitive head. Plus, your hand can provide a contrasting type of sensation. You can use more pressure than you can with your mouth. Wrap your hand around the base of his penis and slowly stroke up and down while you try some of the aforementioned techniques on the head. Let some saliva drip out of your mouth to give your hand plenty of lubrication.

Video

4. Don’t Try To Deep Throat

A lot of women try to replicate the blow job moves they see in porn, which typically involve lots of deep throating. In reality, most women can’t deep throat, no matter how much they practice. It’s also not an essential part of a good blow job. Seriously, you can give amazing blow jobs without deep throating. Try to reset your expectations.

Temporal Tap

The temporal tap is another easy way to suppress your gag reflex that you can do at home or we can do in the office. All it takes is a circle of tapping starting in the front of your ear, then around in a loose circle until we reach the back of your ear.

This is a highly effective technique for many people, and it’s super-easy. The likely mechanism is that the vibrations from the tapping activate the vestibular system. It’s the opposite of the effect that makes some people with TMJ experience nausea related to jaw sounds. The vestibular system is responsible for nausea triggered by motion sickness or dizziness. But these systems overlap so it can short-circuit the gag reflex, too.

More resources

Combating the hypersensitive gag reflex (PDF) – by Mike Gow and Jamie NewlandsTips for the Management of the gagging patient (PDF) (Dental Fears Research Clinic, Washington)

Communication and psychological factors

Here is what people on our forum have said:

I apparently picked up the notion that gagging is a very effective way to get the dentist to stop work when I started to feel uncomfortable. I didn’t really know how to communicate with him without talking, so I just gagged.

Talking with the dentist. This was probably the biggest thing that helped me. Establishing communication and letting him know my fears was a big step. For example, my dentist now places tools in my mouth at different angles than he did in the past. He lets his assistant know not to rest the sucking thing against my cheek. He also does not put so many things in my mouth at one time.

I find the most important factor in dealing with gagging problems is a calm manner – if you get stressed by not being able to take an impression, your patient is only going to gag more. Acknowledge the problem and show that you are not phased by it.

Visit our support forum to get help with this and other fears, or to simply get things off your chest!

Acupressure to Resolve Gagging

How does acupressure work to temporarily halt involuntary throat contraction or gagging? This technique is very similar to acupuncture except that anyone can do it.

While acupuncture requires a licensed therapist and employs needles to stimulate pressure points on the body, acupressure uses gentle to firm finger pressure alone. This makes it ideal for self-treatment where and when necessary.

This method is scientifically backed too. In 2008, the Journal of the American Dental Association published a study that found that pressure applied to a specific point on the palm of the hand consistently altered the severity of the gag reflex. (4)

These techniques are helpful for other situations as well such as to relieve pain and enhance relaxation. I’ve used acupuncture to induce labor and acupressure to prevent seasickness when on a cruise. I’ve used the same technique to prevent carsickness and airsickness in my children when necessary too.

The video below demonstrates what to do to temporarily halt the gag reflex. It is particularly effective should you need to swallow some pills or brush your teeth.

You can also hold your hand in this position while in the dental chair to prevent gagging during tooth cleanings.

Other Ways to Help with Gag Reflex

While using acupressure is helpful to use in the short term, over the long haul you probably will want to take steps to desensitize yourself to gagging.

One of the easiest ways to do this is by using your toothbrush. (5)

  1. Start the process by brushing your tongue every time your clean your teeth.
  2. Brush for about 15 seconds on a spot as far back on the tongue as you can tolerate without gagging.
  3. Repeat every day until you no longer feel an urge to gag coming on at all.
  4. Move the toothbrush slightly further back on the tongue and brush on that spot for about 15 seconds, again repeating every day until there is desensitization.
  5. Continue moving the brush further back in the mouth until you are able to brush the entire visible length of the tongue without discomfort. The entire process could take several weeks to accomplish.

Relaxation

One natural way to control gagging is to practice any type of relaxation method you find effective. Some people meditate. Others use self-guided visualization. It might even be something as simple as listening to music.

Whatever you can do to make yourself more relaxed before coming into the office can help reduce your gag reflex. And, of course, we can use NuCalm when you are in the office to help you relax.

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Tips

  • Don’t eat right before the activity that tends to trigger the gag reflex. This will minimize the chances of vomiting.

    Thanks! Helpful 14 Not Helpful 2

  • Practice eating foods that make you gag. If you still gag, avoid the food.

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