If you – or your algorithm – is a fan of all things health hacks and wellness, you may recently have found yourself curious about the likes of mouth taping for sleep. Yep, the simple art of sealing your mouth shut with tape (not regular Sellotape, may we add!) is the gaining a tonne of traction right now, with its rumoured benefits said to include improved kip, better breathing and even... the ability to tighten up your jawline, changing the shape your face.
Eager to learn more about whether or not the mouth taping hype is to be believed, and how it can impact on oral health and sleep quality, we chatted two experts, Dr Mani Bhardwaj, Clinical Director, and Principal Dentist of The Smile Studio Dental Group, and Dr Katherine Hall, sleep psychologist at Happy Beds...
(PS: As with anything health-related, we need to state upfront that it's always best to speak to a doctor or medical professional before embarking on any changes.)
What is mouth taping?
"Mouth taping is essentially exactly what it sounds like, you place skin safe tape over your lips whilst you sleep to keep them closed to emphasise the breathing through the nose instead, which does have rumoured benefits," says Dr Bhardwaj. Yep, it's as simple as that!
How do you use mouth tape for sleep?
It's pretty much a 'does what it says on the tin' situation: invest in some specially designed mouth tape strips (we've rounded up our top picks below) and peel the sticky back off, then cover your mouth, and sleep as normal.
What are the benefits of mouth taping?
Although there's still more research needed into the health benefits, Dr Bhardwaj says that what's out there currently does actually sound promising. "Overall health benefits include lowered blood pressure, regulating the temperature of your breath and reducing allergens. The practice has also been shown to reduce anxiety in some cases."
He adds that mouth taping has grown popular with athletes of late, as "recent research has shown that breathing through the nose creates better oxygenated blood and therefore can improve performance."
It's also thought that mouth taping can help with your oral hygiene too, as it "stops the mouth from becoming dry whilst you sleep; mouth breathing can give you a dry mouth which can lead to bad breath and tooth decay". How does that work? Well, Dr Bhardwaj explains that when the mouth is taped, the mouth retains most of its moisture and therefore, allows the mouth to keep a better habitat of microflora and improve oral hygiene. (And, after having given it a go myself, I can attest to that).
"There have also been studies suggesting that breathing through the nose whilst the mouth is taped may reduce sleep apnoea, and therefore reduce fatigue in patients and maintain a better oxygenated blood supply to the brain," the dentist adds.
Is it bad to sleep with your mouth open?
With all this talk of the benefits of sleeping close-mouthed, we asked Dr Bhardwaj if we ought to worry about being a mouth breather – and luckily, the answer is no. Feel free to breathe a big sigh of relief (out of your nose or mouth, your choice!).
"On the whole, it is not bad to sleep with your mouth open, but it can lead to increased bad oral hygiene due to the mouth drying out from saliva and the quality of oxygenated air taken in can be less effective than from the nasal route," he says.
Can mouth tape change the shape of your face?
Looking for a jawline that can cut glass? Sadly mouth taping won't help with that, according to Dr Hall. "No, mouth taping primarily focuses on improving your breathing technique and sleep quality and, therefore, isn't associated with changing facial features such as your jawline. Any impact on your facial structure is likely to be subtle."
Dr Bhardwaj agrees, saying, "It is highly unlikely that mouth taping and breathing through the nose would change the shape of your jawline especially in a short time frame. Changing the jawline would require long-term treatment and mouth taping may not be the best suited practice if this is your goal."
Is using mouth tape dangerous?
On the whole, no – however there are some circumstances that you ought to consider before embarking on a mouth taping journey yourself, says Dr Hall.
"Before embarking on mouth taping, I strongly advise seeking guidance from your local GP or a healthcare professional. They can assess any underlying medical concerns and evaluate your respiratory health," she explains. "For instance, if you experience persistent, severe snoring, it could be indicative of underlying conditions such as sleep apnea or asthma, both of which cannot be effectively addressed through mouth taping alone."
Dr Hall also stresses it's important to exercise caution if you suffer from chronic or severe nasal congestion "as mouth taping may lead to increased discomfort during the night, making it more challenging to fall asleep".
Furthermore, she adds, individuals with sensitive skin or adhesive tape allergies should be cautious when considering mouth taping. "Opting for hypoallergenic tape is advisable, and a patch test can be conducted to ensure there are no adverse reactions. Safety and comfort should always be the top priority when considering mouth taping as a sleep strategy."
I tried mouth taping: here's my honest review
So, after my boyfriend pointed out to me that I am a nighttime 'mouth breather' (cheers, babe) and reading Dr Bhardwaj explain that sleeping with a closed mouth is better for your oral health, I wanted to give mouth taping a try.
After a quick search on Amazon, I opted to buy this 30-pack of mouth tape aids from Longevity (and can confirm they're super easy to use, and crucially, don't hurt when you peel them off the next morning):
All you do is peel the backing tape off, place over your mouth and off you go.
Now, I appreciate my observations aren't the most scientifically robust, but from having tried it for a couple of weeks, I can confirm that mouth taping definitely made a difference for me in a couple of ways.
Firstly, morning breath? Who is she? I don't know her! Taping my mouth for sleep meant it was no longer drying out and things felt a lot fresher on that front. Secondly, I felt as though when I went to the gym of a morning, when running on the treadmill, my mouth no longer fell open as it may have done previously. Instead, I found myself better able to regulate breathing through my nose, which in turn helped me run for longer and without feeling quite so breathless.
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This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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