What You Need to Know About Gags: How to Choose the Right One

The used panty marketplace

There are so many different ways to enhance your sexual play - the internet is full of kinky possibilities, and there is no doubt you’ve come across the term “gag” while searching for new sexy ideas. 

While many people “know about” gags, there are still many unanswered questions (and misconceptions) about the use of gags during sex. 

I’ll admit: the world of gags seems a bit intense...but it doesn’t have to be. 

Many people visualize gags as something used by leather-laced dominatrixes or people who are hardcore into being dominated and controlled...but really, gags don’t have to be a hard yes or no. 

The fun thing about gags is that you can experiment with them because there are so many different kinds of gags that are used for so many different types of sexual situations. 

I’m going to shed a little (a lot) of light on the world of gags - so try to keep an open mind. I’ll even explain a bit about what type of gag goes with what type of play...you never know, maybe you’ll find something intriguing about it. 

What Are Mouth Gags? 

Gags are exactly what they sound like: something you put in your mouth and (for lack of a better word) gag on. While the name implies activating that pesky gag reflex, not all gags will do that because not all gags were made to serve that purpose. 

Some gags don’t even go inside your mouth, but over your lips instead (like tape gags). Some gags are designed to go behind your teeth, deep into your mouth (like bigger ball gags) - and some are simply meant for you to bite down on them (like bit gags). 

As I said, many people know about gags, but the idea they have is vague and narrow. While diving into the world of gags can seem a bit scary or intense, it can actually be tons of fun if you choose the right one (more on that later!)

The history of the gag: torture, surgical use, dentistry and kink

While modern-day use of gag sex toys is relatively safe, gags may have a misconception for being scary and torturous because of their history. 

Gags have been used in medicine (often placed between the upper and lower jaw to prevent the mouth from closing) if there was an operation being done on the mouth or throat that required the patient’s mouth to remain open and accessible. 

The first recorded use of a medical gag was in 1500 AD by a military surgeon named Lorenz Heister. He first described the gag in his notes as a “screw-like device” that was used to open a patient’s mouth. This became the classic design for mouth gags during that time. 

However, not all gags were used for medical practice...it was a bit later, in the 1560s, that gags started to be used in torture/public humiliation settings. The “scold’s bridle” was a gag that resembled a kind of iron mask/muzzle and it was used to humiliate and cause physical pain to the person ordered to wear it. 

In the late 1800s, there came quite a few different variations on the mouth gag - and with different variations came different uses. Over time, the gag was perfected from a relatively archaic device commonly used in surgical situations to mouth gags that were more comfortable and used often in dentistry. 

And eventually, it happened: a tale as old as time - kinksters finding sexual uses of relatively “ordinary” equipment. The number of things we’ve found sexual uses for that were not invented for any sexual purpose is quite astounding, honestly...well done, everyone. 

The gag (with a history of being used in torture and medical practice) was eventually turned into something to be used in the name of kinky sex. 

Why do people like wearing gags during sex?

For some, the question still remains: why do people like to use gags during sex? The idea of being forced to be quiet or being forced to keep your mouth open sounds like a nightmare to some - but a fantasy to others.

Why do some people find the idea of wearing gags during sex to be erotic? Well, there are a few reasons - but the biggest by far would be domination or erotic humiliation. 

People who are into these facets of BDSM play like the idea of gags because it can be a humiliating and demeaning way to control your submissive. There are even gags that can be linked into harnesses, meaning you can quite literally control your sub like an animal. 

The use of a gag in the bedroom creates a very clear sense of hierarchy: you know who is in charge and who is to be obedient. Adding this kind of indicator can be incredibly sexy for those in dom-sub relationships. 

Nine Different Types of Gags (and how to use them)

Now that we know why people like gags, let’s talk about the different types of gags - because there are so many! The thing to realize when it comes to using gags during sex is that each type of gag can be used differently, in different scenes, for different reasons. 

Maybe you’ve never been fond of the idea of gags because you don’t know what situation you’d use them in or what one you would find fun to use. Many people think of “gags” and it’s a very narrow-minded focus - but there are so many different types of gags that can be used for so many different reasons. 

Let’s find you your ideal gag, shall we?

Ball Gags

Maybe the most well-known type of gag is the ball gag. Ball gags are often rubber or silicone balls that go inside the mouth (typically behind the teeth), and they are usually held in place by a strap. 

While you may not think there is much room for variation when it comes to ball gags, there is actually a lot of room for error when it comes to choosing the right ball gag because there are quite a few things you have to consider.

We’ll go through a quick run-down of the different things you should keep in mind when ball-gag shopping.

Let’s talk material: ball gags can be made out of a few things such as plastic, leather, faux leather, metal and silicone (which is perhaps the most common because it’s more comfortable). 

Then we get into size: extra small and small ball gags range from about 1-1.5 inches, and these will be best for beginners or people who have particularly smaller mouths. Medium to large ball gags will be about 1.75 - 2 inches, and extra-large ball gags are typically around 2.5/3inches - and would, of course, be for more experienced kinksters. 

Some sex toy companies will give a diameter reading, while others give a circumference reading of the ball gag. 

This can be a bit annoying because they are two different numbers. The easiest way to determine what size you need is by going from the diameter, as this will actually tell you the size that’s going to be in your mouth.

However, if you’re given the circumference, according to this Lovense article, simple math can help you figure out what you need no matter the number given to you. 

Divide that number (the circumference) by 3.14...for example, if the circumference is 5.2 inches, the ball will be about 1.6 inches.

And if you find a sex toy company that gives you both the circumference and diameter of their gags - they’re a keeper! 

Now that we know a bit more about ball gags...how do you actually decide which one is best for you? Well, let’s go through what you’ll likely need - from beginner to “I’ve been around this block a few times, honey.” 

Are you a beginner and just wanting to test this out? Then a gag with a smaller ball and easily adjustable (soft) straps is likely what you’re looking for. 

Beginners should also choose a comfortable material (like silicone, for example) to make their first time more comfortable. 

Here are some recommendations for beginner ball gags: 

This Breathable Ball Gag by Fetish Fantasy is perfect for first-timers, with breathable holes in the rubber ball and a more comfortable strap. 

The Bondage Boutique Faux Leather Silicone Ball Gag is also a great choice if you’re new to the land of gags because it’s silicone (one of the more comfortable materials for balls) and is super adjustable, meaning it can fit really well. 

Now, if you’re a bit more experienced when it comes to gags and want to push your limits, this is when you’ll look for balls that are actually a bit bigger in size. 

If you’re interested in prolonging your gag play, there are ball gags that come with a buckle, adding a bit more intensity to its use. This is also where you can experiment with different materials (such as plastic) and try out some different sizes if you’d like your mouth open a bit wider. 

To really take things to the next level, let’s check out what more advanced ball gag wearers should be getting into.  Here is where you can really play things up, choosing from a variety of different materials (like leather or even metal) and take the size even bigger, causing the mouth to open wider and the muffle to be even more intense. 

For more advanced ball gags, check out the “Big, Mouth Filling Gags” section of popular online sex toy retailer Sub Shop. This is one of the best-reviewed sites for gags - so have fun! 

Bit Gags

If you’ve been around horses at all in your life, you may know what a bit gag is - however, for people who have no idea what I’m talking about: bit gags are cylindrical tubes that are held in the mouth, often leaving the wearer unable to speak. 

Why choose a bit gag over a ball gag? Well, if you’re someone who has a smaller mouth or is generally less experienced in the area of restraint play, the bit gag can be appealing because it’s not a round shape in your mouth, it’s a bar type shape. Some bit gags also don’t come with leather straps, but silk ones - making it a bit more sensual than intense, for those who want a bit more of a softer touch to their dom-sub relationship. 

According to this Elite Daily article, using a bit gag in bed was super hot. 

Caroline Colvin describes her first time using a bit gag in the bedroom: “...snug enough to make me drool, but loose enough that I could breathe out of my mouth, too, since it was my first time using a gag toy.” 

She later explains: “The fact that my girlfriend could say such dirty things to me and all I could do was moan in response? It really highlighted the dom-sub dynamic and made the experience extra hot!” 

While both ball and bit gags are best for those who are new to this kind of restriction play, you can add more intensity to your gag play with bit gags because they are best used in prolonged wear situations, as they can actually be locked in place. This can add more intensity to your restriction play. 

If you’re interested in using this (or any type of gag that renders the wearer relatively mute), consider coming up with a “safe gesture” (something they can do with their hands) instead of a safe word, as they won’t be able to say it with a mouth full. 

One of the more popular bit gag sex toys comes (again) from Sub Shop, with their Stuffed Buckling Bit Gag. This Strict Leather Silicone Bit Gag has some really good reviews, too. And if you’re looking for something sensual, this bit gag with silk straps is super sexy. 

Open Mouth Gags 

With open mouth gags, the idea of silencing your partner isn’t the main goal. Instead, you want access to their mouth, you want them not to be able to close their mouth at all. Open mouth gags can be used in medical play situations as well as in something like consensual forced oral sex (more on that at the end of this post). 

When it comes to open mouth gags, there are a few different types you can get: ring gags and spider gags are popular choices. If you’re new to this, you’re likely thinking: what on earth are those?! 

Well, let me explain…

A ring gag is exactly what it sounds like: a round ring that holds the wearer’s mouth open. These are appealing because the person’s mouth is forced to stay open and they are unable to talk. These are generally made from materials like stainless steel and then are covered in more comfortable materials such as leather. 

Another thing to note is that ring gags are typically adjustable, meaning you can decide how open you want the person’s mouth to be. 

Looking for the perfect open ring gag?
This O-Ring Gag Restraint has some stellar reviews. 

A spider gag is very similar to the ring gag but made so that it’s essentially impossible to turn in the wearer’s mouth. This is because of the added ‘spider leg’ like metal pieces added to the gag, hence the name. 

Open mouth gags are popular because they are designed to allow objects (or body parts) to be inserted into the mouth while the gag is being worn, which adds a bit more heat to the domination/submission vibe. 

While this is mainly what open mouth gags are used for, it’s important to be safe and maintain communication and consent throughout your restraint play activities - this can be done by communicating through safe gestures and agreeing on hard limits before the games begin.

An important note on choosing open-mouth gags: if you’re interested in what’s known as “facefucking” (which, you can imagine by the name what that entails), it’s important to find a gag that not only fits into your partner’s mouth but also one that’s large enough for what else needs to fit through, if you catch my drift. 

If you are looking for this kind of play, the best choice would be a Whitehead Gag, which you can find here

Tube Gag

Tube gags are more intense and should be used by those who are experienced in this kind of restriction play. They are made of a flexible pipe (or hose) that’s in a soft mouth cover, in which the wearer breathes through. A strap holds the tube in place, like with other gags.

Tube gags are sometimes used in breath play scenes, because the dominant can actually pinch the tube shut, restricting the user’s breath for a time, before releasing it and allowing them to breathe normally. As you can imagine, extreme caution needs to be used when involving any kind of breath play into your games. Communication, safe words and safe gestures are extremely important. 

Tube Gags shouldn’t be worn by people who have breathing problems and the wearer should never be left alone with a tube gag (or any kind of gag, for that matter), as they can choke. 

Breathing through this kind of gag can be difficult, so it’s best to practice wearing one before you use it in a BDSM scene. 

Tape Gags

Now we get into some “over the mouth” type of gags, instead of gags that are designed to be worn in the mouth. These types of gags restrict the ability to talk (obviously), but can also be used to spice up role-plays such as hostage scenes, kidnapping scenes or consensual nonconsent scenes. 

Wearing a tape gag (or any over the mouth gag) adds a whole new level of helplessness to the scene simply because of the way it looks and feels. The tape isn’t nice to have put on (and peeled off) your face, and this can add to the intensity of the scene you’re in. 

The type of tape you use is up to you: you can use sex tape bought from your local sex store or online sex toy retailer, which is known for being easier on the skin...or you can use duct tape (if your partner doesn’t mind that extra sting while trying to remove it). For some people, that’s part of the fun. 

This kind of gag is super popular amongst casual gag wearers for two main reasons: it’s cheap and easy (because who doesn’t have duct tape laying around their house?) and it’s also a bit safer, as tape can be relatively easy to remove if you blow on it or wiggle your mouth around. It also isn’t tied at the back, meaning the person wearing the tape can remove it themselves (if they have a free hand, that is). 

Muzzle and Harness Gags

 Muzzle gags got their name because of their strong resemblance to the animal muzzle, which is often slid over an animal’s mouth to keep it closed. 

A muzzle gag is generally made of a somewhat flexible patch (typically made of leather) that is placed over the mouth and held there by straps that wrap about the back of the wearer’s head. These gags can also have added straps that do up under the chin or over the entire face, for that added animal-vibe. 

Muzzle gags are great for people who are into pet play or want to control their sub like a dog. Along with other more advanced gags (such as the harness gag), muzzle gags are often used in very specific situations, where the dom is aroused by the look, feel or idea of that specific gag being used. 

Penis Gags 

Penis gags are quite literally what they sound like: a gag that is made to resemble a penis. These types of gags would typically consist of a dildo/penis-shaped gag that is inserted into the wearer’s mouth and held in by the straps that do up on the back of the person’s head. 

Penis gags are normally used in erotic humiliation scenes or for the visual appeal of it to the dom (as the wearer is seemingly simulating oral sex by having the penis gag in their mouth). 

While penis gags aren’t hard to come by, they aren’t super common because again, they fit into a very specific fantasy and would only be purchased by those who are interested in the type of BDSM scene that would require this kind of gag. 

While searching for a penis gag for yourself or your sub, please keep in mind that the larger ones (while visually appealing) could cause choking hazards and leave less room for play - smaller is maybe best, when it comes to penis gags, because they don’t go as far into the wearer’s mouth, meaning they are safer. 

The DIY Panty Gag 

You know we had to add this one to the list, right? The DIY panty gag is definitely super sexy and something you can try (to get a feel for gags) without actually having to purchase a sex toy. 

As you can likely guess, the panty gag is exactly what it sounds like: balling up your panties and shoving them into your partner’s mouth. 

This can be insanely hot for many reasons: maybe your lover has a used panties fetish and you want to give him a chance to taste you before he really tastes you...or maybe the heat comes from the spontaneous in-the-moment thinking of slipping your panties off and using it to silence them. 

How ever you choose to play it - panties as a mouth gag is sexy! 

How to Choose the Right Gag 

Choosing the right gag can be difficult, so here are some questions you (and your partner) should answer before buying a gag. 

What kind of scene are you setting?

If it’s about restriction and submission, try a simple tape gag to test out if you and your partner want to dive into buying a gag sex toy. If the appeal for you is more from the look of your partner wearing a gag, browse through a few different online stores to see what one looks sexiest to you. 

Does your partner have any health concerns or limitations that will dictate what kind of gag you can use?

If your partner has breathing difficulties or has had extensive dental work done, gags that go inside the mouth maybe aren’t the best. If you’re stuck on in-the-mouth ball gags, go with one that has breathable holes in it so ensure your partner is comfortable and safe.

What material do you (or your partner) want in their mouth?

When it comes to sex toys, you can never go wrong with silicone. Silicone is a durable and safe material. While some materials may have a strange taste or smell to them (like rubber), plastic or silicone toys won’t have a strong smell to them. Silicone is also much easier to clean than most other material blends (like rubber or plastic), making it a good contender for first place when it comes to the best gag material. 

What size are you (or your partner) comfortable with?

Beginners should always stick to ballgag sizes that are under 1.5 inches in diameter. When you aren’t sure, always go a size smaller than you think you may need - after all, having a ball gag that’s too small won’t do any harm but having one that’s too big can end up hurting you or have you not wanting to use it at all. 

Do you have a favorite online sex toy retailer?

If so, chances are they will have some gags that you may like. When it comes to sex toys, finding a company you trust to provide you with good quality toys and good customer service is important - so if you already have a sex toy retailer you enjoy shopping with, check out their selections of gags! If they have a “contact us” option, you can even sent a message asking what type of gag they suggest - and don’t forget to check out the reviews! 

Do you want to go vegan?

While leather is likely the best for durability and strength, faux leather is making a huge rise in the sex toy world - so consider going vegan with some of your sex toy choices! This may take you a bit longer to find (as many gags use leather in the straps) - but there are some great quality leather gags out there, too - you just have to search for them!

A Note on Gag Safety and Consent

While we know all work and no play makes Jack (or Jill) rather dull - we do need to talk about safety and consent when it comes to any kind of restrictive play, and that includes the use of ball gags. 

Safe Gestures 

One of the very first things you and your partner should do is establish safe gestures that replace safe words when they can’t speak (for instance, when there is a giant ball gag in their mouth). A safe gesture or action is something that the person can do that very clearly indicates that you need to stop what you’re doing and check in with your lover. 

While safe gestures can be something as holding up 2 fingers or making open/close motions with your hand, some people like to have something that is super obvious, like a squeaky toy your partner can use that gives a loud signal to stop. 


When it comes to restraint play, consent shouldn’t just be given, it should be continually maintained throughout the entire experience. 

While you can achieve continual consent through the use of safewords or safe gestures, it’s extremely important to communicate with your partner about what’s going to happen before things get started. 

Facefucking & Forced Oral with Open Mouth Gags

If the purpose of your open-mouth gag is forced oral sex, consent and communication are key points to cover before you set the scene. 

Along with communication, safety measures should be taken when it comes to oral sex while wearing a mouth gag, as choking is a very big possibility. Go slow and check-in with your partner frequently to ensure everything is okay.