Guide to Mouth Taping
Today, lots of Americans aren’t getting adequate levels of sleep and this is usually a result of sleeping disorders. A lack of sufficient sleep time eventually leads to a plethora of problems (some of which affect oral health).
Luckily, with the help of a simple technique called mouth taping, you finally have a fighting chance over your sleeping woes.
This simple, inexpensive method of mouth taping is designed to keep you from breathing through the mouth. Most people tend to think of this as bizarre but did you know that taping your mouth shut encourages nose breathing and has lots of benefits?
You have lots of oral, physical, and mental benefits to gain when you breathe through your nose – an essential factor that promotes good sleep.
So, let’s walk you through mouth taping and provide answers to questions concerning how it works and what the benefits are.
What is mouth taping?
Most people imagine using a random tape obtained from any store to duct tape their mouths when they hear “mouth taping.”
However, mouth taping is totally different from what you imagine it to be. It is pain-free, safe, minimally invasive, and promotes nose breathing by putting a stop to mouth breathing while you sleep.
You’ll find a wide range of products designed to assist you in training yourself to sleep while keeping your mouth closed. Some of these products include sleep strips that are easy to remove, comfortable, and hypoallergenic. Sleep strips are usually soft and designed to match your mouth with great precision.
They are different from regular tapes and these trips come with vents built into them to allow you to breathe through should your nose get stuffed up during sleep. The best part is that this tape doesn’t leave any residue when you take it off.
People who have the habit of breathing through their mouths might need a little bit more time for their bodies to acclimatize to nose breathing at night. One way to speed up the process is by practicing nasal breathing during the day.
The effects of mouth breathing
If your mouth stays open while you sleep, it encourages mouth breathing which is harmful to your sleep. Breathing through the mouth should be an option only when you are very congested.
Our mouths are only designed to eat, talk, and taste while the nose has the specific functions of breathing and smelling. It can be risky to let your mouth perform functions other than what it is intended for. This is the same for other parts of your body too.
In adults, breathing through the mouth can trigger problems like drooling and snoring. Your blood pressure and heart rate will continue to fluctuate as long as you breathe through your mouth. This condition also disrupts the supply of oxygen to important sections of your body like your heart and brain and can make your asthma worse.
Did you know that kids who practice mouth breathing are at risk of developing health conditions like reduced cognitive abilities, poor sleep habits, abnormal facial growth, and misaligned teeth? Scientists believe that ADHD symptoms are similar to those of mouth breathing in kids and teenagers.
Are you a mouth breather? – Mouth breathing symptoms
Verifying that you are a mouth breather before using the mouth taping technique is important. You need to ensure that you actually breathe through the mouth at night rather than through the nose.
Most people who experience mouth breathing do not know this because it mostly starts once they fall into a deep sleep. So, here are symptoms to look out for that will tell whether or not you are a mouth breather –
- Stinky breath when you wake up
- Sleep-related issues
- Tossing and turning non-stop
- Getting up to pee during midnight
- Drooling on your pillows
- Teeth grinding signs
Benefits of mouth taping
If you are a mouth breather, here is how mouth taping can benefit you –
- Mouth taping helps to diagnose more severe issues
Aside from helping you breathe through your nose during sleep, mouth taping plays the role of a diagnostic tool. How?
When many patients find that mouth taping is difficult for them all through the night, they seek medical help from specialists who then dig deeper to ascertain why the patient is compelled to breathe through the mouth. Treatment of the underlying causes can then commence.
- Enhanced nitric oxide levels
Nitric oxide helps in weight loss, pain relief, inflammatory response regulation, better sleep quality, improved cognition and memory, improved mental well-being, and more. But a deficiency of nitric oxide puts you at risk of depression and anxiety, hypertension, worsened vascular function, reduced immunity, and chronic inflammation.
Mouth breathing causes a deficiency of nitric oxide in both kids and adults. The nose sinuses are responsible for producing up to 25% of nitric oxide but when you start to breathe through the mouth rather than through your nose, your body gets limited access to nitric oxide.
- Reduced risk of dry mouth
If you have thick saliva in your mouth most of the day or experience a strong thirsty feeling when you wake in the morning, you probably have dry mouth. Dry mouth puts your health at risk and can cause harm to your oral microbiome while affecting your dental wellbeing adversely.
Saliva is responsible for the health of your enamel but dry mouth prevents it from coating your teeth adequately. This can cause cavities but one of the best ways to reduce dry mouth is through mouth taping.
- Reduced teeth grinding risk
You are at risk of suffering from disordered sleep breathing when you sleep with an open mouth. You could experience sleep apnea and what your body does in situations like this is to use teeth grinding as a way of forcefully getting air through the airway.
The possible result of teeth grinding is extensive tooth damage such as premature teeth aging, receding gums, teeth yellowing, all tooth decay.
How safe is mouth taping?
Mouth taping can be used by anyone as it has no contraindications. Both older children and adults can apply the mouth taping technique. We do not recommend using mouth taping for toddlers or babies. If you are scared, you can start by using a softer kind of tape. When starting to use mouth tape for your kids, you want to be sure that they do not have difficulties with opening their mouths.
How to use a mouth tape
Use sleep mouth strips that are specially designed to tape your lips. These strips will not stick to your facial hair. You can find good specially-shaped strips on credible online stores.
Before taping, get some Vaseline and apply it to your lips. This helps to reduce how much lip stickiness your experience in the morning. You can tape from your lip top until you get comfortable with taping your entire mouth. Create a small breathing space should an emergency arise and keep up this practice for a while until you get accustomed to taping your entire mouth.
Get your lips puckered out first before taping them. As soon as you attach the tape, relax your lips.
Mouth tape based on your needs. For people who use surgical tape, use more of it so you can fold the ends to look like small handles. That way, pulling it back temporarily using the handles becomes easier. That’s because you might feel like coughing, talking, or taking sips of water. Take the tape off a little using the handles and replace them when done.
Take it one step at a time. Simple tasks like wearing the mouth tape for a few hours daily can help your body adjust and make it easier to tape your mouth at night.
Ensure that you can open your mouth fairly easily after applying the mouth tape. If you need to apply so much force to get your mouth open, repeat in the process until the tape fits just right.
When to contact your doctor
Some people tend to remove the tape before they get through the night. This might be a result of underlying health conditions that prevent them from nose breathing during sleep. We recommend getting in touch with your doctor if you continue to experience this problem. Your specialist will apply the right medical procedures to identify the underlying cause and then initiate a solution.
For some, however, there may be no underlying health conditions. This is probably just about adapting to using a mouth tape. The body might require anywhere from a couple of weeks to some months to acclimatize. So, if you notice that your mouth tape is off when you get up in the morning, there’s no need to feel bad about it. Try again the next day.
Remember that mouth breathing can lead to a wide range of health problems but mouth taping comes in handy as a way of preventing these issues. Keep doing it for as long as you can, even forever. This practice doesn’t affect the health negatively and we recommend buying tapes specially designed for this reason. Get in touch with your doctor before commencing mouth taping.
Kelly Hancock, RDH
Kelly is a registered dental hygienist and oral health care provider. She is passionate about oral hygiene and encourages people to achieve optimal oral health. She has been working in the dental profession for 16 years and worked in many different roles in the dental industry. Kelly is currently a pediatric dental hygienist specializing in children’s dentistry. She is committed to helping others with their oral health care issues and helping others achieve a smile they love.