How can I prevent gagging when I brush my teeth?

If you've ever watched a really grisly movie and felt like you were literally going to throw up, you know all about your gag reflex. The gag reflex may feel unpleasant, but it actually protects your body by preventing objects from getting down your windpipe and choking you. But some people have such a sensitive gag reflex that they feel like they're going to throw up every time they brush their teeth.

To prevent your gag reflex from triggering, try to relax while you brush your teeth. Think about something else -- something pleasant and calming -- to help keep your mind off the brushing and stop you from gagging. And be careful not to stick the toothbrush too far into the back of your throat, which could also make you gag.
Alice G. Boghosian, DDS
Alice G. Boghosian, DDS on behalf of American Dental Association
Some people have more of a gag reflex than others. If when you brush, you occupy your mind with something else while still using the proper brushing technique, you won't focus on gagging. For example, try sitting in a chair when brushing, straighten one leg, then lift and hold it in the air. Your mind will focus on keeping your leg lifted with the added benefit of a bit of exercise! In addition, try not to place the toothbrush too far back when brushing your tongue. If at all possible, invest in a tongue scraper instead.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.