Sleep Better by Taping your Mouth Shut

San Francisco, Marin, and Oakland, CA

When it comes to the health of your family, you pay attention to what they eat and try to make sure they get enough rest but have you paid attention to the way your loved ones breathe? Believe it or not, there is a right way and a wrong way to breathe—especially when you sleep. The path to better breathing and better rest could come from a simple act: taping your mouth shut.

Popularized in the 1960s, this practice of mouth taping is also referred to as the Buteyko method. Before beginning this, however, you should determine how you are breathing during sleep. The easy way to do this is by determining the level of dryness in your mouth—the dryer the mouth, the more likely you are breathing through your mouth while you sleep.

Mouth breathing can have dire consequences on your health. Medical research has shown that just 20 to 30 minutes of breathing through the mouth resets the breathing center and lowers levels of oxygen in the body. These lower oxygen levels encourage tumor growth during the night in patients who suffer from malignant tumors.

For patients with sinusitis, mouth breathing allows the pathogenic bacteria residing in the sinuses that are causing the problem to multiply, colonizing new mucosal surfaces.

Keeping the mouth open during sleep also could damage the muscles of the heart, encourage inflammation in the GI tract, or lead to the spread of skin pathogens such as eczema and psoriasis. Mouth breathing also can be a precursor to snoring, which may lead to the development of a potentially dangerous sleep breathing disorder such as sleep apnea.

Mouth taping is as simple as it sounds. Start with a roll of surgical tape, and cream such as 3M or Vaseline to prevent the tape from sticking to the skin. Place a small amount of cream on the lips, then take a small piece of tape and place it vertically across the middle of your closed mouth. If you are concerned about sealing your mouth completely, you can tape only one half.

Mouth taping may sound drastic, but it encourages nasal breathing, which is preferred for overall health. By taking shallow breaths through the nose, your lungs have more time to absorb oxygen because the exhale lasts longer. Furthermore, air inhaled through the nose mixes with nitric oxide, a natural bacteria killer that also helps to dilate the airway, arteries, and capillaries.

Remember that any mouth taping should be considered only as a temporary measure. You may need to seek the service of a medical professional, who may prescribe treatment options that yield more lasting results. There also are several behavioral and environmental changes you can make, which can help to lower your likelihood of mouth breathing, such as lowering the temperature in your bedroom, cleaning your bedroom thoroughly to eliminate dust, and refraining from sleeping on your back.

Sleep Apnea Specialists in San Francisco

How you breathe matters. To learn more, or find out how your local Bay Area dentists at Glen Park Dental can help treat such issues, give us a call at (415) 585-1500 to schedule a consultation.

Glen Park Dental is proud to offer comprehensive oral care services to patients in the areas of Marin, Oakland, and San Francisco, California.