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Mark Bornfeld, DDS
Mark Bornfeld, DDS, Dentist
Category: Dental
Satisfied Customers: 6021
Experience:  Clinical instructor, NYU College of Dentistry; 37 years private practice experience in general dentistry, member Academy of General Dentistry, ADA, American Academy of Oral Medicine
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I am gagging when I put in my upper denture. I have been to

Resolved Question:

I am gagging when I put in my upper denture. I have been to the dentist and a specialist as well and have found no relief. could this be a medical problem? I have had my dentures for over 10 years ( with no problems until 2 months ago) and now have a new denture. They don't hurt and I don't gag when I am eating or laying down. But as soon as I stop eating or get up I gag? I am getting desperate because I can't seem to work and I am tired all the time. can you please tell me if this could be a medical problem? What kind of doctor would I need to see?
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Dental
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
The gagging started with my old denture (upper only) This went on for two weeks before I went to my dentist. He thinned the back down and other modifications. It has been almost 6 weeks and even with my new denture I am still gagging. I still have my old denture. The new denture fits well but I still keep gagging.The specialist I saw was D.D.,F.A.G.D., M.A.G.D.
Expert:  replied 8 years ago.
Dear ,

If the gagging started while wearing your old denture, and there was no substantive change to your old denture (e.g., breakage, re-line, etc.) that coincided with the onset of the gagging, it is clear that the gagging is due to some factor other than that denture. (It is true that an old denture could conceivably become more loose over time due to changes in the supporting gum tissues, but I have never witnessed a patient start gagging on an old denture that was previously well-tolerated.)

It is indeed possible for some medical problem to provoke gagging. For example, it is well known that hepatitis and other viral diseases with a slow onset can cause nausea, gagging, and intolerance of certain smells and tastes in the pro-dromal (early-onset) stages of the disease. It is also possible for dryness of the mouth due to physiologic aging of the salivary glands, salivary gland disease, or mouth dryness due to certain medications to make the surfaces of a denture prosthesis less slick, and more acutely perceived as dragging on the oral tissues. Dryness of the mouth also can make swallowing more difficult, although this is obviously not a feature of your complaint.

There are also certain psychological phenomena that can make a person's normal gagging reflex more sensitive. It is well known that gagging can be influenced by cognitive processes and expectation; once a hyperactivity in a gag reflex is established, the natural tendency to focus on the problem tends to be self-reinforcing-- a matter of auto-suggestion that perpetuates itself. Indeed, this is often the case with gagging when there is no problem with chewing and swallowing, because the same trigger zones that normally provoke the reflex are stimulated during these activities.

It would be appropriate to have a full physical examination by your medical doctor, if for no other reason than to be conscientious in doing a complete diagnosis. However, the more likely suspect would be the aforementioned dry mouth, even if you are not conspicuously aware of it. Psychological management is also appropriate in many cases, because the psychological overlay can certainly complicate resolution of the problem, even if it wasn't the initial precipitating cause. Cognitive therapy and hypnotherapy both have been used to good effect in treating excessive gagging.

Good luck!
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