What Is Mouth-Taping, and Does It Work?

If you have a noticeably dry mouth when you wake up in the morning, chances are that you’re breathing through your mouth when you sleep. Why is this a big deal?

Keeping the internal surfaces of the mouth moist is essential to oral health. Mouth breathers are at greater risk of tooth decay, because without a steady flow of saliva to maintain moisture, populations of bacteria are able to build up in the mouth (with the result commonly called “dragon breath”).1

Your saliva is essential to maintaining a healthy mouth microbiome, and the oral microbes also influence the gut microbiome as well. Studies have found links between oral microbes and cardiovascular and gut health.2 Furthermore, when nose-breathing, the body produces nitric oxide, which functions as a vasodilator, relaxing and widening blood vessels to increase blood flow and lower blood pressure.3 Nitric oxide has also been shown to benefit digestive health.4

Breaking the habit

If you’ve been sleeping with your mouth open all these years, you may find it a hard habit to break. That’s where mouth-taping comes in.

No, you don’t reach into the junk drawer to grab the Scotch tape or duct tape. Paper tape will work, or you can get special adhesive strips designed specifically for this purpose. There are a few different manufacturers of mouth tape, which is made of odor-free, hypoallergenic flexible fabric or gel strips that leave no residue on your face. Find them at your local drugstore or simply order them online.

If you’re uncomfortable with the idea, try using mouth tape during the day to get used to breathing through your nose. Wear it while on your morning commute or as you watch TV after dinner. (Bonus perk: If your mouth is taped, you won’t be able to keep snacking!) Even wearing it during your bedtime rituals can help: Apply the tape before you read your book, write in your journal, or browse social media sites. Those extra 20 minutes will accustom you to the feel and the habit of breathing through your nose.

If you’re unable to breathe through your nose at all while reclining, consider talking to your healthcare practitioner to rule out sleep apnea.

How long should I consider mouth-taping?

It’s up to you! It’s a good idea to do so until breathing through your nose through the night becomes habitual, but if you find you sleep better with the tape, there’s no reason to stop. As long as you don’t have a cold or other illness that prevents a clear pathway, you will get ample air through your nose through the night.

This content is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Individuals should always consult with their healthcare professional for advice on medical issues.

References

  1. Tiwari M. J Nat Sci Biol Med. 2011;2(1):53-58.
  2. Fitzgerald K. https://www.drkarafitzgerald.com/2015/08/06/the-mouth-a-mirror-of-health-or-disease/. Accessed February 6, 2019.
  3. Rees DD et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 1989;86(9):3375-3378.
  4. Konturek SK et al. Digestion. 1995;56:1-13.

Submitted by the Metagenics Marketing Team

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