Can something as simple as taping your mouth shut while you sleep solve common health problems like bad breath and snoring? The new viral health craze on TikTok seems to think so. Mouth taping, which involves sticking tape either vertically across the lips or diagonally in a St Andrew’s-style cross, has gained more than 25 million views on the platform. TikTokkers have been posting videos praising the benefits of mouth taping, claiming improved sleep and focus, and even suggesting that nasal breathing should be taught in schools. But is there any scientific basis for this craze?
Mouth taping is based on the principle that nasal breathing is better for you because it encourages the release of nitric oxide, a chemical that opens up the airways and helps fight off infections. Nitric oxide is not produced when you breathe through your mouth. Nasal breathing helps retain more nitric oxide because 75% of it is deposited and recycled in the nose when you breathe out through your nose, compared to breathing out through your mouth where more than 75% of it is lost. Nasal breathing also has advantages in terms of heat and moisture retention, as well as filtering out bacteria, pollen, and pollutants.
Some athletes use mouth taping to improve their speed and endurance. Research, including a study by Professor George Dallam at the University of Colorado, suggests that mouth taping can deliver more oxygen to the muscles, potentially giving athletes a competitive advantage. Nasal breathing also reduces the occurrence of “stitches” during exercise. However, athletes need to practice breathing this way for it to become natural.
While mouth taping may have its benefits, it is not recommended as a solution for oral health problems. Dentist Sam Jethwa explains that mouth breathing can cause oral health issues, such as bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease. Taping your mouth shut could potentially worsen these problems. Additionally, mouth taping is unlikely to have any effect on a sagging jawline or double chin.
When it comes to disturbed sleep or snoring, experts advise against using mouth taping as a solution. Professors Guy Leschziner and Pavol Surda warn that mouth taping may overlook underlying medical conditions and could make breathing more difficult for those with nasal congestion or sleep apnea. Instead, it is important to determine the cause of mouth breathing and treat it accordingly. Breathing exercises may be more effective in improving sleep for those with breathing pattern disorders.
If you do choose to try mouth taping, it is crucial to use tape that can be easily removed by blowing through your lips. Using strong tape can cause problems. It is also recommended to consult a healthcare professional, especially if you have existing respiratory issues or sleep apnea.
So, while mouth taping may offer some benefits, it is important to consider individual circumstances and consult with professionals before attempting it as a solution for health problems.