Thanks to some recommendations on TikTok that have gone viral, mouth taping has taken off as a trendy way to get better sleep. However, the practice of mouth taping is not new. In fact, it has been around since at least the 1950s.
The idea behind mouth taping is that it encourages you to breathe only through your nose during sleep, helping you to avoid mouth breathing, which has been linked to numerous issues. Not only does breathing through your mouth dry out your saliva and encourage more bacteria growth, but it can also affect how your jaw and your soft palette sit, which impacts your breathing.
If your soft palette drops or your jaw moves too far backward, your airway can narrow or even close up entirely. Then, you try to pull air through and create the sound we know as snoring.
Is mouth taping just about snoring?
Most people talk about mouth taping in the context of snoring. Snoring is easy to identify as an issue, especially if you sleep with a partner. It can even be a point of tension between you if your snoring is disruptive to someone else’s sleep. However, snoring is only one of many issues that can affect your sleep, and it might make other sleep issues worse.
In fact, one theory about teeth grinding is that your body uses grinding or clenching as a way to help open up a narrowed airway to help you breathe more easily. This theory is far from proven, and even if it is true, there are also many other reasons for teeth grinding, including jaw misalignment, jaw tension, and general stress of anxiety.
However, it is possible that there is a feedback loop occurring in some cases. In other words, the stress of trying to breathe properly during the night and the possible oxygen deprivation caused by snoring could contribute to other stresses and forms of tension in the body, which might increase problems like teeth grinding.
Treating snoring and improving your rest and your body’s oxygenation will lead to better health, which can help you address other issues like stress or teeth grinding.
Is mouth taping the only way to treat snoring?
Though mouth taping is popular, it is far from the only way to address snoring and other sleep disorders. In fact, many of the treatments and practices that help teeth grinding cross over into alleviating snoring as well, including getting proper orthodontic work, creating a de-stress routine before bed, and avoiding alcohol.
You can even get a form of night guard that is very effective against snoring. It is called a Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD), and it works by helping your jaw to stay in position while you sleep so that it doesn’t slip backward and block your airway. You can also try a Tongue Stabilizing Device (TSD) if your tongue position is contributing to your snoring issue.
If you have a serious snoring issue, such as obstructive sleep apnea, which causes dangerous drops in oxygen levels during sleep that can impact your overall health, you might need to get a CPAP machine. CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure, and it works by using air pressure to open the airway.
Unlike a MAD, TSD, or CPAP machine, mouth taping has not been tested through rigorous studies and is largely recommended through anecdotal evidence and personal experience. Because of this, you may want to proceed with caution.
Are there risks to mouth taping?
Mouth taping restricts your body’s ability to breathe through the mouth. As such, it can promote nose breathing, but it can also pose certain risks if you encounter any difficulty breathing through your nose. This is why mouth taping should never be employed if you have sleep apnea, allergies that cause congestion, a head cold, or a deviated septum that makes breathing through your nose more difficult.
If you have those issues, you will want to find solutions for them before trying mouth taping. You can get surgery to correct a deviated septum, try medication to alleviate allergies and talk to your doctor about sleep apnea treatment options.
You can also improve your ability to breathe through your nose with nasal strips or by using an internal nasal dilator. Breathing through your nose provides your lungs with better-filtered and moistened air and incites your body to produce nitric oxide, which increases oxygen absorption. So, it is always good to encourage your body to choose your nose over your mouth when breathing. Sometimes, you can even do this by choosing to sleep on your side instead of your back.
What about bruxism?
When it comes to bruxism, mouth breathing may help you lessen your bad habit, but it won’t cure it entirely. Read the TeethNightGuard blog to find more solutions for teeth grinding. And consider getting a custom night guard to protect your teeth and gums from the damage caused by grinding.
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