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Why Are Your New Upper Dentures Triggering Your Gag Reflex?

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There can be a sense of relief when your new upper partial dentures are fitted. Finally, those missing teeth have been replaced, and the range of food you can safely eat has suddenly expanded. Your upper jaw may feel a little odd for a brief period, but this is simply the muscles and tendons that operate your jaw growing accustomed to this new addition to your upper dental arch. This odd feeling will quickly pass. There is another odd sensation that you might experience, and that's the curious feeling that you're always on the verge of gagging. What can be done when new upper partial dentures begin to trigger your gag reflex?

The Rear of Your Upper Palate

Dentures can trigger your gag reflex, although this generally only happens when the partial dentures have replaced teeth at the rear of your upper palate (your molars). Partial dentures that replace upper incisors and/or canines are too far away from the rear of your palate to affect your gag reflex. There are a few things that can be done when your gag reflex is being regularly irritated by new dentures.

Get Professional Advice

Your dentures may have been arranged by your own dentist, or you may have been referred to a specialist denture clinic. In any case, you should contact the practice that fitted the dentures. After asking a few questions to determine the extent of the problem, they might suggest taking a wait-and-see approach. This isn't being dismissive of your problem but more an acknowledgment of the fact that your gag reflex might soon grow accustomed to the dentures and will stop reacting.


This wait-and-see period could be combined with your own efforts to desensitize your gag reflex. This method involves gently brushing the back of your tongue with a soft toothbrush to stimulate your gag reflex, repeating each day until your gag reflex subsides. While this method can yield the desired results, sometimes the dentures themselves must be addressed.

Modifying Your Dentures

Should your gag reflex continue to be triggered beyond any wait-and-see period that was recommended, your dentures might need modifications. A dentist can thin a denture plate (the base that holds the denture's prosthetic teeth) at the rear of the appliance, smoothing down its edges so that the base plate is less likely to irritate your upper palate and trigger your gag reflex.   

A triggered gag reflex resulting from new dentures might only be a temporary problem that corrects itself. If this doesn't prove to be the case, a dentist can certainly help.

Contact a local dentist to learn more about upper partial dentures.