Mouth taping is a practice that has increased in popularity in recent months, helped in part by the social media application TikTok. Users across the platform have been encouraging their followers to use mouth tape when sleeping, due to apparent benefits like an improvement in sleep and general oral health. However, there is limited scientific evidence to justify its use. Furthermore, many dental professionals have questioned its effectiveness, and warned of potential side effects.
Mouth taping is hardly a new practice, but it is something that has risen in popularity in recent months. For example, mouth taping has been promoted heavily on the social media app TikTok.
Many users on the video-creating site have suggested that taping the mouth shut before sleeping guarantees an improvement in sleep quality and other oral health benefits.
However, research on the subject is far from conclusive, and many well-known health professionals have raised concerns about the practice. For example, some have suggested it is actually dangerous.
TikTok has been blamed for the rise in impressionable youngsters engaging in so-called “dental hacks”, such as using bleach on teeth. However, these hacks can actually be unsafe.
What happens when we sleep with our mouth open?
Regular open-mouth breathing while sleeping can cause obstructive sleep apnea and snoring. Consequently, a dry mouth, bad breath and other dental problems can result.
The desire is to breathe through the nose when sleeping. Breathing through the nose allows contaminants to be filtered out . Furthermore, it also helps to increase our intake of nitric oxide levels, which has a range of benefits, including brain function and blood oxygen levels .
What are users on TikTok saying about mouth taping?
There are a huge range of videos on TikTok that show users literally taping their mouth shut before sleeping. They then wake up the next day, speaking of their breath being fresher and resulting oral health.
Mouth taping does seem to help against dry mouth, which is something that many people suffer with. Because dry mouth is lessened, people are less at risk of oral health problems like cavities and gum disease .
However, despite the proposed benefits of mouth taping, the research into its effectiveness is limited. In some cases, it hasn’t proven to be effective.
Research on mouth taping
Many users on TikTok have spoken of an improvement in symptoms of Sleep apnea, which is a potentially serious condition where breathing is affected during sleep.
A pilot study treated 30 patients with sleep apnea with an oral patch . There were positive results. In fact, the researchers concluded that mouth taping was effective at decreasing snoring, which benefited sleep apnea .
Another well-known study looked at how mouth taping affected asthma. The researchers suggested that mouth taping could be an effective approach to asthma control .
The study participants had a four week period of regular sleeping monitored. They then underwent a two week period of mouth taping. Again, their sleeping was monitored .
But there was no noticeable difference overall, with the researchers concluding that mouth taping “had no effect on asthma control” . Users on TikTok have suggested that asthma control is one of the biggest benefits of mouth taping. However, this research suggests otherwise.
The Side Effects of Mouth taping
However, regardless of the supposed effectiveness of mouth taping, it is worth considering what dental professionals say about mouth taping. A group of professionals created a fact-sheet that reviewed mouth taping .
One of the main concerns with mouth taping is that it cannot be guaranteed that some people will get enough air into their nose while sleeping. Therefore, this could cause serious breathing problems .
Another issue with mouth taping is the dangerous potential side effect of Chronic Obstructive Pulonary Disease (COPD). Because mouth taping can cause upper respiratory obstruction, this can lead to a strain on the heart and eventual COPD. COPD can be life threatening .
Moreover, the fact-sheet also pointed out that for those with allergies, sleep apnea or septum problems, mouth taping could obstruct breathing ability .
The dental professionals also pointed out that sleeping with the mouth open isn’t “abnormal” . The lack of conclusive evidence is also concerning for many dental professionals.
What this means
Social media can result in impressionable youngsters engaging in risky behaviors. The practice of mouth taping is an example of this. While it can be effective for some, there are a range of side effects.
For those that are encountering sleep problems, there are better methods available, such as sleeping on your side, having a regular bedtime routine, taking allergy medications, quitting smoking, decreasing caffeine intake and avoiding alcohol where possible.
It is important to say that some people will derive benefit from mouth taping. While it is a personal choice, those ready to engage in mouth taping should do so with caution. Overall though, dentists largely advocate against its use.
1) Many people struggle to sleep properly. But instead of trying radical approaches like mouth taping, why not visit your local dentist to see if they can suggest any improvements in sleep hygiene or oral health?
2) There can be underlying dental conditions that cause problems with sleep. By visiting your Calgary dentist for a regular check-up, any issues will be able to be identified and then treated.
3) Do you have children? If so, it is worth checking in with them on supposed “dental hacks”, so that they don’t act in a way that will cause them significant problems.
What we offer at Taradale Dental
Taradale Dental is a dental clinic based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. We provide our patients with a warm welcome, a comfortable experience and advice whenever needed.
We recommend that our patients attend our Calgary-based dental clinic twice a year for a regular dental check-up. When problems are detected, we have many treatments available. For instance, these include cavity fillings and root canals. We also have some cosmetic treatments too!
Importantly, we recommend brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing regularly. Moreover, eating healthily and trying to avoid sugary foods and drink is helpful.
 Shapiro, N. (2019). Keep Your Mouth Shut, But Should You Tape It?. Available: https://www.forbes.com/sites/ninashapiro/2019/10/18/keep-your-mouth-shut-but-should-you-tape-it/?sh=347fd2e266e9. Last accessed: 17th December 2021.
 Naftulin, J. (2021). TikTokers are taping their mouths shut while they sleep, claiming it helps snoring and dry mouth. Doctors say the practice can be risky. Available: https://www.businessinsider.in/science/health/news/tiktokers-are-taping-their-mouths-shut-while-they-sleep-claiming-it-helps-snoring-and-dry-mouth-doctors-say-the-practice-can-be-risky-/articleshow/88285456.cms. Last accessed: 17th December 2021.
 Huang, T-W., & Young, T-H. (2015). Novel porous oral patches for patients with mild obstructive sleep apnea and mouth breathing: a pilot study. Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. 152 (2): p369-373.
 Cooper, S., Oborne, J., Harrson, T., & Tattersfiekd, A. (2009). Effect of mouth taping at night on asthma control–a randomised single-blind crossover study. Respiratory Medicine. 103 (6): p813-819.
 Orofacialmyology.com. (2017). Concerns about Lip Taping in Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy. Available: https://orofacialmyology.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/concerns-about-lip-taping-in-orofacial-myology-myofunctional-therapy.pdf. Last accessed: 17th December 2021.