What to Know About the TikTok Mouth Taping Trend – Verywell Health

Alyssa Hui is a St. Louis-based health and science news writer. She was the 2020 recipient of the Midwest Broadcast Journalists Association Jack Shelley Award.
Nick Blackmer is a librarian, fact-checker, and researcher with more than 20 years’ experience in consumer-oriented health and wellness content.
There’s a new health trend on TikTok: taping your mouth shut at night to sleep better. It’s called mouth taping and videos using the hashtag #mouthtaping already have more than 39 million views on the social media platform.
Some users who’ve tried the trend are claiming that it can improve sleep and common health problems like snoring and bad breath. 
“Breathing through your mouth contributes to a host of issues including bad breath, gum disease, cavities, brain fog, and a weakened immune system,” Isabelle Lux, a TikTok user with over 382,000 followers, said in a video. “Keeping your mouth shut before bed completely prevents that.”
In a video with 1.4 million views, another TikTok user claimed that taping their mouth helped them stay asleep all night and prevented health conditions like sinus infections. 
“It helps me stay asleep…all night long. I do not wake up,” said Chance Culp, a TikTok user with 640,000 followers. “I used to wake up several times throughout the night—now, I just tape my mouth shut.”
Culp added that they’re “a chronic sinus infection sufferer” and claimed they “have not had a sinus infection” since they started mouth taping.
Experts say that not only are these claims from influencers—who are not healthcare professionals—controversial, but the practice could actually be dangerous for some people. And there are other ways to improve your breathing without taping your mouth shut. Here’s what you need to know before you try out the trend.
Raj Dasgupta, MD, an associate professor of clinical medicine at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California and a Fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, told Verywell that breathing through your nose is the preferred route for nighttime breathing. It helps filter out dust and allergens thanks to tiny hairs (cilia) in the nose that have the job of removing germs and other environmental debris.
According to Dasgupta, nasal breathing can also help humidify the air you breathe. That can be beneficial since dry air is irritating to the lungs.
“Nasal breathing may lower blood pressure by increasing nitride oxide, a compound in your body that can help keep your blood pressure under control,” Dasgupta said.
Breathing through your nose can also be useful as a relaxation technique and anxiety-controlling method, which Dasgupta mentioned is often used in meditation and yoga to help people transition into sleep.
Shannon Sullivan, MD, a clinical professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pulmonary, Asthma and Sleep Medicine at Stanford University, told Verywell that the nose and its structures have important roles in the physiology of breathing during sleep, including regulating nasal airway resistance and stimulating ventilation.
However, when the nose is congested, Sullivan said it can lead to snoring, restless sleep, and excessive daytime sleepiness.
Compared to nasal breathing, experts say that open-mouth breathing—especially chronic oral breathing—can have a negative impact on oral health. It’s often associated with dry mouth in the morning, bad breath, gum irritation, snoring, and dental cavities when compared to nasal breathing. 
“Open-mouth breathing has been shown to change the position of upper airway structures in ways that predispose to snoring, airway obstruction, and possibly obstructive sleep apnea (OSA),” said Sullivan. “Chronic mouth breathing in sleep can be associated with OSA in both adults and children.”
Breathing through your nose instead of your mouth can have benefits, but experts say taping your mouth shut at night can be risky—especially if you try it without talking to your healthcare provider first.
“Blanket approaches like taping—without thinking through the ‘why’ behind the presence of chronic oral breathing in sleep in the first place—is not the best approach,” Sullivan said.
The potential dangers of mouth taping include:
Sullivan said mouth taping could be especially risky for people who have breathing problems, including people with obstructive sleep apnea, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, deviated septum, sinusitis, or allergic rhinitis causing nasal obstruction. 
“[Mouth taping] could be problematic for people who have anxiety, and risky for people on certain medications that change their ability to rouse from sleep,” Sullivan said. “Speaking from a medical perspective, there is not enough evidence to make statements about clear health benefits or safety. I advise folks to discuss their situation with a healthcare provider.”
Speaking from a medical perspective, there is not enough evidence to make statements about clear health benefits or safety.
If you want to improve your sleep hygiene, mouth taping is not your only option. Dasgupta suggests starting with some lifestyle and behavioral changes:
Dasgupta said if you want to breathe through your nose during sleep, there are some alternatives to mouth taping to consider trying, including:
Even learning to play a wind instrument can help improve your breathing during sleep.
Mouth taping is a viral TikTok trend that claims to help you sleep better and reduce other health problems like bad breath and snoring by encouraging nose breathing instead of mouth breathing. However, it’s not safe for everyone.
If you want to sleep better and breathe through your mouth less at night, there are safer and more effective ways to do it. If you’re still curious, don’t try taping your mouth at night without talking to your provider first.
Valipour A. The role of the nose in obstructive sleep apnea: a short review. Pneumologie. 2014;68(6):397-400. doi:10.1055/s-0034-1365488
Koo SK, Park GH, Koh TK, Jung SH, Lee HB, Ji CL. Effect of mouth closure on upper airway obstruction in patients with obstructive sleep apnoea exhibiting mouth breathing: a drug-induced sleep endoscopy study. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2020;277(6):1823-1828. doi:10.1007/s00405-020-05904-0
By Alyssa Hui
Alyssa Hui is a St. Louis-based health and science news writer. She was the 2020 recipient of the Midwest Broadcast Journalists Association Jack Shelley Award.

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