Shape: Amber Bonnaig, DDS, the dental director of Georgia for DentaQuest, a health care company that provides dental benefits, speaks about the benefits of placing a strip of medical-grade tape across your lips before bed.
Why would someone do this, you ask? “Nose breathing itself is actually healthier for you than mouth breathing,” says
In terms of oral health, breathing from your nose has an edge on breathing from your mouth, as your nose warms and humidifies the air you’re taking in, she says. On the other hand, chronic mouth breathing can dry out your mouth and, in turn, cause trouble for your pearly whites and breath, says Bonnaig. “A dry mouth feeds more bacteria, which disrupts the balance of the oral microbiome and may make you more prone to tooth decay,” she explains. “Some chronic mouth breathers also complain of a bad breath or an odor that they notice more when they wake up or if they’ve taken a nap.” (These kinds of toothpaste will help you banish your smelly morning breath.)
Some people also turn to mouth taping to ease snoring, adds Virginia Skiba, M.D., the associate program director and section chief of sleep medicine at Henry Ford Health System in Michigan. When you snooze, the muscles in the roof of your mouth, the tongue, and the tissues in the throat relax, which can cause them to partially block your airway, vibrate when you breathe, and make those aggravating snoring sounds, according to the Mayo Clinic. But mouth breathing can allow those muscles and tissues to fall further back into your airway, which can worsen snoring, says Dr. Skiba. “Taping the mouth, forcing yourself to breathe through the [nose], might help the snoring,” she adds. (Your sleep posture plays a role in snoring, too.)
In her practice, Dr. Skiba says she typically sees folks trying mouth taping if they’re also using a CPAP machine (or continuous positive airway pressure machine), which uses a hose connected to a mask or nosepiece to deliver constant, steady air pressure to help people with obstructive sleep apnea (when the airway is physically blocked) breathe while they sleep. “So some patients like to use [a CPAP with] a nasal mask — or one that goes over the nose or inside the nose — but they have a tendency to open their mouth,” she explains. “When you open the mouth, the air just rushes out and that can disrupt your sleep and cause a dry mouth.” A chin strap designed specifically for CPAP machines is commonly used to keep the mouth closed, but patients who find it to be cumbersome and clunky may prefer to use mouth taping, she says.