Mouth taping is a popular home treatment that helps prevent mouth breathing while you sleep. But is it true? Dr. Stephen Grant at the MercyOne Clive Sleep Center explains everything you need to know about mouth taping.

What is mouth taping?

Mouth taping is a practice where you tape your mouth shut while you sleep to ensure they are breathing out of your nose. Mouth breathing is associated with negative side effects like dry mouth, bad breath and dental issues. Mouth tapers hope to avoid these issues by forcing themselves to breathe through their nose at night.

“In one respect, nasal breathing is preferred to mouth breathing,” says Dr. Grant. “Breathing through your nostrils allows air to be warmed, humidified and to some degree, filtered before it goes to your lungs.”

People say when they breathe through their nose, they have fewer complaints of dry mouth and bad breath.

Does mouth taping help snoring?

Mouth taping does not prevent snoring. Snoring can be attributed to conditions like sleep apnea and is not impacted by nasal or mouth breathing.

 “If you want to try mouth taping, I suggest ensuring there is no likelihood for possible sleep apnea,” says Dr. Grant. “If you have sleep apnea, you need to breathe through your mouth to ‘rescue’ yourself. Taping your mouth can be problematic.”

Children and teenagers also mouth breathe if they have enlarged tonsils or adenoids.

“Some people need to breathe through their mouth because they cannot breathe correctly through their nostrils,” says Dr. Grant.

Other side effects of mouth taping include skin irritation around the mouth with use over time, and the practice may be uncomfortable.

“Clinically, I have not seen people that tape their mouth shut feel better from this technique over time,” says Dr. Grant. “The risk can outweigh the benefits.”

Alternatives to mouth taping

If you want to avoid mouth breathing without the tape, here are a few alternative measures:

  • Avoid sleeping on your back
  • Sleep at an angle
  • Practice breathing through your nose
  • Talk to your doctor about potential congestion or allergies

Before trying mouth taping, talk to your provider or dentist about if it is safe for you. 

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