Dr. Andrea Middleton - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Andrea Middleton

Is Mouth Taping Bad For You?



Short answer

Mouth taping can have potential benefits for sleep quality by promoting nasal breathing; however, the practice carries risks like suffocation, skin irritation, and it may not be suitable for everyone. Clinical evidence is limited and while it might aid with snoring and mild sleep apnea, it's not a replacement for proper medical treatment. Caution and consultation with healthcare professionals are advised before trying mouth taping.



Long answer

The Theory Behind Mouth Taping for Improved Sleep

Mouth taping is a practice that has been gaining attention as a potential aid for improving sleep quality. The theory is based on the premise that it encourages nasal breathing, which is argued to be more beneficial than mouth breathing, particularly during sleep. Nasal breathing is said to improve the quality of sleep by various mechanisms, and understanding these can help evaluate the validity and potential benefits of mouth taping.

Firstly, let's break down the potential benefits that come with the practice of nasal breathing:

  • Enhanced Oxygen Absorption: Nasal breathing is associated with increased nitric oxide production, a molecule that helps dilate blood vessels. This process can lead to improved oxygen circulation in the bloodstream.
  • Filtration: The nasal passages act as a filter for pollutants and allergens, which can reduce the risk of respiratory issues that might disturb sleep.
  • Humidification: Breathing through the nose warms and humidifies the air, which can prevent the dryness and discomfort that sometimes result from mouth breathing.
  • Regulated Breathing: Nasal breathing tends to promote slower, deeper breaths, which can aid in activating the parasympathetic nervous system — the part of the nervous system responsible for rest and digestion, enhancing relaxation and sleep quality.

The act of mouth taping is anchored in the Buteyko breathing technique, which posits that over-breathing or hyperventilation can lead to a state of reduced carbon dioxide levels in the blood, impairing oxygen delivery to cells — a concept known as the Bohr effect. By ensuring the mouth is closed and securing nasal breathing, proponents believe mouth taping might help maintain balanced oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, potentially leading to a deeper, more restorative sleep.

It is important to note, however, that while these theories present potential mechanisms by which mouth taping could be beneficial, they are based on the larger principles of the benefits of nasal breathing rather than specific studies on mouth taping itself. Clinical evidence on mouth taping as a sleep aid is limited, and more research is necessary to fully understand its efficacy and safety.

According to a few scattered studies, the underlying practices associated with mouth taping, such as those in Buteyko breathing, could potentially benefit individuals with conditions like sleep apnea. For instance, a small study published in the Journal of Sleep Disorders & Therapy suggested that Buteyko breathing may reduce apnea symptoms. However, these findings cannot be directly extrapolated to mouth taping as the methodology and focus of the research differ.

Lastly, an essential part of the theory rests on the premise that many people may not realize they are mouth breathers, especially during sleep. Mouth taping is proposed as a simple corrective tool to ensure the mouth remains closed to encourage the natural habit of nasal breathing.

While the concept may sound intriguing, it's crucial for individuals to consult with healthcare professionals before trying mouth taping, especially for those with respiratory problems, nasal blockages, or sleep disorders like sleep apnea. Incorporating the practice without proper medical advice could potentially lead to negative outcomes or exacerbate existing health issues.

Potential Risks and Precautions of Mouth Taping

Mouth taping, a practice that involves taping one's mouth shut during sleep to encourage nasal breathing, has gained popularity as a simple remedy for snoring and sleep apnea. However, this seemingly benign habit may carry potential risks that should not be overlooked. While the intent is to enhance sleep quality and overall health, it's crucial to move forward with caution and be aware of the possible complications. Below, let's explore some of the considerations and safety measures to keep in mind before adding mouth taping to your bedtime routine.

Risk of Suffocation: One of the most concerning risks of mouth taping involves the possibility of suffocation. Nasal passages can become blocked due to a cold, allergies, or a deviated septum, which could limit the ability to breathe if the mouth is also sealed. If you're considering mouth taping, it's imperative to ensure that your nasal passages are unobstructed and that you can breathe comfortably through your nose.

Adverse Skin Reactions: The adhesives used in tape can cause irritation or allergic reactions in some individuals. To minimize this risk, it's advisable to use hypoallergenic tape specifically designed for skin contact. Conducting a patch test on a less sensitive area of the skin can help determine if you're likely to experience an adverse reaction.

Underlying Health Conditions: People with health issues such as asthma, emphysema, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) should avoid mouth taping unless they have explicit approval from a healthcare professional. Adequate air intake is crucial for individuals with these conditions, and mouth taping could exacerbate breathing difficulties.

Discomfort and Anxiety: Feeling anxious or claustrophobic with the mouth taped can also pose a risk, particularly if you're already prone to panic attacks or anxiety. These reactions might disrupt sleep further and counteract any potential benefits of the practice.

Ineffective for Severe Sleep Apnea: Mouth taping is not a substitute for continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy or other treatments for sleep apnea. Those with severe sleep apnea should consult their doctor for appropriate medical interventions rather than relying on mouth taping alone.

Precautions: If you decide to try mouth taping, consider the following precautions to mitigate potential risks:

  • Medical Approval: Always consult with a healthcare provider before beginning mouth taping, especially if you have any concerns about your ability to breathe through your nose all night.
  • Use the Right Tape: Opt for tapes explicitly designed for mouth taping, which are gentle on the skin and designed to allow some degree of mouth opening if necessary.
  • Start Gradually: Begin with short durations to ensure it's comfortable and that you can breathe easily through your nose.
  • Monitor Your Experience: Keep a sleep diary to log any changes in sleep quality, noting any unusual symptoms like increased fatigue, headaches, or cognitive effects.
  • Emergency Plan: Make sure you can quickly remove the tape if you experience any distress. It may be wise to inform a household member when you plan to try mouth taping.

While it's true that anecdotal evidence suggests mouth taping can improve certain aspects of health, personal anecdotes are not a substitute for scientific research. Notably, there is a lack of robust scientific studies on mouth taping, which is why it's important to approach this practice with caution. Until more research is available, the potential risks cannot be ignored, and safety should always come first.

Effects of Mouth Taping on Oral and Respiratory Health

Mouth taping is a practice that has garnered attention as a potential aid for improving sleep quality by encouraging nasal breathing during the night. However, it is crucial to understand the effects this practice can have on oral and respiratory health. Below, we explore both the potential benefits and risks associated with mouth taping.

  • Increases Nasal Breathing: Mouth taping physically prevents mouth breathing, which can lead to improved oxygenation and reduced snoring. Nasal breathing filters and warms air, which can benefit those with sleep apnea. A study published in the Journal of Sleep Research explored the impact of improved nasal breathing on sleep patterns and found that subjects reported better sleep quality [1].
  • Prevention of Dry Mouth: By keeping the mouth closed, mouth taping can prevent the drying out of oral tissues, potentially reducing the risk of bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease. Saliva is a natural cleanser of the mouth and is more effective when not evaporated by mouth breathing.
  • Encourages Proper Tongue Positioning: With the mouth taped, the tongue is more likely to rest in its natural position against the roof of the mouth, which can contribute to improved oral health and even facial structure over time.
  • Potential Risks: Despite these possible benefits, there are real concerns to consider. Mouth taping can be risky for individuals with chronic nasal congestion, deviated septums, or respiratory issues like asthma. Seeking medical advice before trying mouth taping is essential. In some cases, obstructing the mouth could lead to a dangerous situation if nasal breathing becomes impaired during sleep.
  • Risk of Skin Irritation: The adhesive on tape can cause irritation or an allergic reaction. It's important to select a tape designed specifically for mouth taping, which typically uses a gentler adhesive.
  • Impact on Emergency Situations: In the event of an emergency where nasal breathing is obstructed, a taped mouth could impede the ability to breathe, presenting a significant safety risk.
  • Effect on Sleep Disorders: Those with undiagnosed sleep disorders could exacerbate their condition by using mouth tape. It's crucial to have a professional evaluation for conditions like obstructive sleep apnea before attempting any self-treatment with mouth taping.

Given these effects, it's clear why the subject of mouth taping should not be taken lightly. It has the potential to be beneficial or harmful, depending on individual circumstances and health conditions. Consulting with healthcare professionals like doctors, dentists, and sleep specialists can provide guidance tailored to personal needs, ensuring that mouth taping is safe and effective if considered.

Understanding and weighing these effects is vital in making an informed decision about mouth taping and its potential role in oral and respiratory health. Balancing the potential benefits with the known risks is a critical step in any health intervention, especially one that impacts breathing during sleep.

[1] "The effect of nasal breathing on sleep apnea," Journal of Sleep Research, vol. 25, no. 3. (2016).

Alternative Methods to Manage Snoring and Sleep Apnea

For those who are hesitant to try mouth taping, or have found it to be ineffective or uncomfortable, there are several alternative strategies to manage snoring and sleep apnea. These alternatives should not only be seen as replacements but also as part of a comprehensive approach to improving sleep quality and overall health.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Therapy

One of the most well-researched and standard treatments for obstructive sleep apnea is Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy. CPAP machines work by delivering a steady stream of pressurized air through a mask, which keeps the airway open during sleep. Numerous studies confirm that CPAP therapy can significantly reduce the symptoms of sleep apnea and snoring, leading to improved sleep quality, decreased daytime sleepiness, and reduced cardiovascular risks.

Mandibular Advancement Devices (MADs)

For individuals with mild to moderate sleep apnea, dental appliances or mandibular advancement devices can be an effective treatment. These devices work by gently pushing the lower jaw forward, which can help keep the throat open, thus reducing snoring and improving airflow during sleep. It's important to get these fitted by a dental professional specializing in sleep apnea to ensure the best results and to minimize potential side effects like jaw discomfort.

Positional Therapy

Snoring and sleep apnea symptoms can sometimes be aggravated by sleeping on your back, which can cause the tongue and soft tissues to collapse into the airway. Positional therapy involves training oneself to sleep in a side position. This can be as simple as using pillows or specially designed devices that prevent rolling onto the back.

Weight Management

Being overweight can contribute to snoring and sleep apnea by increasing the amount of tissue in the neck that can press on the airway. Weight loss can be an effective way to improve or even eliminate snoring and sleep disturbance. A study in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine found that even modest weight loss in overweight individuals can improve sleep apnea symptoms.

Exercise and Physical Activity

Regular physical activity can improve sleep quality and reduce snoring in several ways. It can promote weight loss, strengthen the muscles in the airway, and generate more regular sleep patterns. Exercise can also act as a natural decongestant, improving nasal airflow.


In some cases, anatomical issues like deviated septums or enlarged tonsils can contribute to snoring and sleep apnea. Surgical options are available to correct these issues, though they are typically considered after other treatments have failed or if the anatomical issues are significant. Surgery should be a last resort due to the potential risks and recovery time, and it's crucial to consult with a specialist to understand the benefits and risks.

Remember, before pursuing any treatment, it’s important to undergo a professional sleep study to diagnose the type and severity of sleep apnea or related disorders. Each individual case is unique, and a healthcare provider can help tailor a treatment plan that's right for your specific needs.

Frequently asked questions

If considering mouth taping, one should look for tapes that are designed specifically for this practice, often marketed as 'sleep strips' or 'mouth strips'. These products are usually gentler on the skin and hypoallergenic to minimize the risk of irritation. Always conduct a patch test and seek tapes that provide easy removal in case of discomfort or emergency.

Non-invasive alternatives to mouth taping for managing sleep apnea include lifestyle changes like weight management and sleep position training, which involves learning to sleep on your side to prevent airway obstruction. Using nasal strips or sprays to improve airflow, practicing good sleep hygiene, and doing throat exercises to strengthen the airway muscles also serve as non-invasive alternatives.

The long-term effects of mouth taping on dental health are not well-documented in scientific literature. While mouth taping may reduce the risk of dry mouth and potentially decrease the likelihood of tooth decay and gum disease by promoting nose breathing, it's essential for individuals to maintain proper dental hygiene and consult with a dentist regularly to monitor oral health.

Mouth taping is not generally recommended for children, as it can pose significant risks, including suffocation if the child cannot breathe properly through their nose during the night. It's crucial for parents to consult with a pediatrician before attempting any interventions to address breathing or sleeping concerns in children.

Ask a question about Mouth Taping and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • discomfort
  • anxiety
  • skin irritation

Ingredients to be aware of

  • adhesives


  • enhanced oxygen absorption
  • filtration
  • humidification
  • regulated breathing
  • prevention of dry mouth
  • encourages proper tongue positioning

Healthier alternatives

  • cpap therapy
  • mandibular advancement devices
  • positional therapy
  • weight management
  • exercise and physical activity
  • surgery

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Desmond Richard
Published on: 02-23-2024

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Desmond Richard
Published on: 02-23-2024

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