Why Do We Have A Gag Reflex And How To Get Rid Of It?

The reflex is a contraction in the back of your throat caused by an object that touches a roof of your mouth, back of your language, region around your mouth, or back of your throat. Reflex is also known as the pharyngeal reflection or laryngeal spasm

Reflex helps to resist shock and helps to reduce the transition between liquid and solid food during childhood. The spinning gag reflex expels contaminants that the brain has found toxic by tossing items into the throat into the mouth. 

Gagging is like swallowing but in reverse. When you gag, your throat will be closed by two separate sections at the back of your mouth: your pharynx is contractual and your larynx will push up. This is a protective mechanism to avoid the swallowing and absorption of something. This process is regulated by the muscles and nerves of your body.

In the early days of a baby’s life, this reflex is activated by food that is considered too coarse for the baby to eat by the area of the brain stem, known as the ‘nucleus tractus solitarius’ (wired to nerve finishes in the mouth). The Gag reflex decreases, enabling a baby to swallow chunky or solid foods, beginning around the 6 or 7-month mark in infants. 

Some people have excessively responsive splash reflexes which may be caused by things like anxiety, postnasal drip, or acid reflux. Swallowing pills, oral sex or visiting the dentist’s office may also make overactive gag contemplation a challenging activity for people. 

Causes of gag reflex

Gag Reflex?

Gagging is also seen as being affected or being physically distressed in the region around the oropharynx. However, a gag reflex can be a response to a variety of different senses that influence your senses, including:

  • smell
  • sound
  • touch
  • sight
  • taste

There are also various disorders associated with an overactive gag reflex, including:

  • Health issues such as reflux acid or MS
  • stress 
  • Fear
  • Panic 
  • heavy workout 
  • Intense or bad smells
  • Irritation or allergy to certain fluids or foods

Types of gagging

You can gag for two reasons:

These two gagging forms are not always distinct. The sight, sound, smell or thought of a certain object or place that causes a reflection can be hurting from physical touch. The back of your mouth has five locations that can induce gagging when caused. This includes the following:

  • uvula
  • palate
  • the base of your tongue
  • back of your pharyngeal wall
  • fauces

If one spot in your mouth is activated by the sensation or other senses, the nerves activate the medulla oblongata in your brain. This then signals the mouth’s muscles to contract or to push and creates tightness. The trigeminal, glossopharyngeal and vagus nerves send out this signal. 

Gagging can also activate the brain cortex in certain instances. That can lead to muddle when you even think of something that could stimulate this reflection. Since a mixture of factors can lead to gagging, in certain cases you can find that you just do this when certain factors or situations arise. 

Why do we gag?


Gagging is a natural reflex action and can even be experienced by adults. In cases, like in the dentist’s office, or when you try to swallow anything unnatural like a pill, you may find yourself gagged.

During a dental visit, you can also gag if:

  • Hamper or obstruction in your nose 
  • Gastrointestinal disturbance
  • A heavy smoker 
  • Dentures are not fit for you 
  • The palate is different in shape

Swallowing pills can be uncomfortable for some people and trigger a gag reflex. According to a study, it was found that 1 person out of 3 tends to choke, shock or vomit on swallowing a pill. Depending on what the reflection causes, different levels of gagging can be assessed. 

You can manage your gagging if you have a regular gagging reflection, but in certain cases, such as a dental operation that is invasive or lengthy, controlling such sensations or reflexes can be a difficult task.

How to get rid of gag reflex?

If it interferes with your daily lives or your health, you may want to monitor your sensitive gag reflection. You may have to try multiple approaches to decide how your gag reflex is to be handled and ways to stop the gag reflex. 

Speak to your dentist or doctor about various care methods if you experience this in dentists or another medical setting. Recent research has tested the severity of a gag reflection in a new measure. A universal measure to treat your sensitivity will benefit healthcare providers. You may want to try to get rid of gag reflex by following several strategies:

Psychological approaches

You will need psychiatric treatments or other therapies which may affect your actions or your mental state to resolve your sensitive gag reflection. You can also try:

Acupuncture or acupressure

Perhaps you would like to find another way to alleviate your Gag Reflex. In this case, acupuncture can be helpful. Acupressure is a method and theory similar, which does not require needles. This exercise can allow the body to rebalance itself and to find equilibrium in some points of the body by inserting the needles.


Certain topical and oral medicines will relieve your gag reflex. These include local anaesthetics for sensitive areas that stimulate gagging or other medicines that control and treat nausea and vomiting in the central nervous system. Among other alternative oral medicine, the doctor can also prescribe antihistamines or sedatives.

Nitrous oxide or anaesthesia

In a dental or medical procedure that causes gagging you may feel the need for local or general anaesthesia to regulate your gag reflex.


If you have a sensitive Gag Reflex, your Dentist or physician might be able to change your treatment or develop a prosthesis. For instance, modified toothpaste.

Swallowing techniques

A gag reflex can occur when swallowing pills. This reaction can be avoided by some techniques. Try cleaning a pill by drinking a small plastic water bottle or swallowing a water pill while your head is pointing down. You can regulate your gag reflex in many ways, and trying different ways can help you overcome a sensitive gag reflex.

Often gagging is a natural body reaction and there’s no concern about it. If gag reflex interferes with your well-being or medical needs you can have to seek treatment to monitor.