“Many patients have said this one small thing has changed their life”, says Dr. Black. “It’s possibly a game-changer in the prevention of oral disease.”
By now, most of us have heard about the health benefits of a good night’s sleep. Not only does it allow you to think more clearly, reduce stress, and improve your mood — it also benefits your immune system and lowers your risk of developing serious health problems like heart disease.
It might surprise you to learn that breathing through your mouth can have an impact on your sleep. Not only can it cause you to snore, but studies have shown that people who regularly breathe through their mouths while asleep are more likely to develop a sleep disorder.
But how can you stop breathing through your mouth while you sleep? One technique that has worked for our Timberhill Dental patients is called mouth taping.
What is mouth taping?
Mouth taping is a technique you can try at home to help stop, or train yourself to stop, breathing through your mouth while you sleep. It is exactly what it sounds like: you tape your mouth shut before you go to sleep to keep your mouth closed, thereby encouraging yourself to breathe through your nose.
But why should I breathe through my nose?
It might seem like common sense, but our noses — much more than our mouths — are meant for breathing. Although it’s common to breathe through your mouth when your nose is congested or after exercising, most of the time, breathing should happen through the nose because:
It helps keep your nostrils and sinuses from drying out and becoming irritated
It helps control the temperature of the air entering your lungs. Breathing through your nose warms up or cools the air you’re breathing in and makes it easier on the lungs. This is not the case when you breathe through your mouth.
It helps clean the air you breathe. Hairs in your nose called cilia help to filter the air you breathe in from contaminants and keep them out of the lungs.
It helps to humidify dry air, which can help with asthma or chronic lung conditions.
It helps keep the mouth from drying out. When your mouth dries out, it can cause bacteria to thrive and increase your chance of developing gum disease or tooth decay.
Air passing through the nose picks up nitric oxide, a chemical that enhances oxygen absorption within the lungs.
The problem with mouth breathing
Many people don’t even realize they are breathing through their mouths while asleep. Common symptoms of mouth breathing include:
Mouth breathing presents a few different problems.
From a dental perspective, it’s not great for your teeth or gums. Saliva in the mouth is an important part of neutralizing acids, remineralizing teeth and washing away bacteria that would otherwise sit on the teeth and gums and cause damage. When your mouth dries out, it creates a perfect environment for bacteria to thrive, increasing your chance of developing tooth decay or gum disease.
Mouth breathing has also been linked to throat, ear, and sinus infections, chronic stress, allergies, hay fever, and asthma.
How to tape your mouth for sleep
Before you try mouth taping on your own, it’s a good idea to talk with Dr. Black about how to do it correctly.
Here are the basic steps of mouth taping:
First, you’ll want to get a special kind of tape called sleep tape or surgical tape. These kinds of tape will help reduce the chance of irritation on your face. We’ve heard from our patients that this brand of tape works great!
Put a small amount of petroleum jelly on your lips and around your mouth where the tape will be. This helps avoid irritation after you take the tape off, and sticky residue from remaining on your face. (Sometimes petroleum jelly is not necessary if using tape made specifically for use on the mouth.)
Then, take a piece of tape and place it over your lips. This should typically be done horizontally, but if you’re feeling uncomfortable at first, you can place the tape vertically to get a feel for it and allow for emergency mouth breathing.
Sometimes actual application of the tape requires additional explanation. Call Dr. Black if you think you need extra help.
If you’re concerned about your ability to breathe through your nose, we recommend giving it a test run during the day before you try mouth taping at night. This will allow you to gauge how well you breathe through your nose and start to feel comfortable with the technique.
Risks and side effects of mouth taping
We now know the benefits of breathing through your nose, and mouth taping may be an effective way to start doing this consistently. Here are some things to consider or ask our team at Timberhill Dental about before trying mouth taping:
Don’t tape your mouth if you have bad nasal congestion or are experiencing cold or allergy symptoms.
Your skin may become irritated around your lips and mouth due to the tape
It may disrupt your sleep. If you have a habit of breathing through your mouth while you sleep, it may take a while to adjust to breathing through your nose instead.
Want to learn more? Contact Timberhill Dental today
At Timberhill Dental, we’ve heard from our patients about the positive effects mouth taping has had on their lives.