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ASK YOUR DENTIST 31 - Dentures are making gag

“Dear Doctor,

HI there, I am Dawn, and I have a very unique problem. My dentures are making me gag! It’s not all the time, but if I just speak, eventually if I try to make glottal sounds, it feels like someone is sticking their hand down there! What do I do to stop this from happening? Any help is much appreciated!

Thank you!”

denture gag

Dear Dawn,

This problem is quite common, and in no way is it unique, it happens to about every tenth or fifteenth individual wearing dentures. This is a very normal problem, and it is very easy to fix it.

The problem occurs because the bite plate is too long, to close to the uvula or the back of the throat, and triggers your gag reflex when it touches that area. It may also be the case that the bite plate is too loose, and is pushing tissue in a way that triggers the gag reflex.

The solution is to shorten the bite plate, or get it replaced altogether. If you make it shorter, it will not go back far enough to cause you to gag, and may be more comfortable. If you adjust it to be tighter and better fit your palate, you will not even feel that it is there in the first place, and that way gagging on it is out of the question.

Often the bite plate just needs to be adjusted to better fit the roof of your mouth, or palate as it is called. This is a process, and you will be given a temporary denture that will be less comfortable than you regular one, and the dental technician will deal with fixing your bite plate. If it is uncomfortable still, just go back and get it adjusted until it is good.

If you only experience this problem while you make glottal sounds, that leads me to believe that the bite plate is a little bit too big, probably a little bit too long and also maybe too thick. When you make these sounds, your palate curves downwards, and if the bite plate is too big, it might make you gag. Get it fixed, should not take more than a few hours, or if the dental technician is really swamped with work, a few days at most.


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