How you breathe matters, especially when you sleep. If you often breathe through your mouth, your body absorbs a lower quantity of oxygen. You also face several health risks as a consequence of mouth breathing, including obstructive sleep apnea. Luckily, you can treat this mouth breathing through something as simple as taping your mouth at night.
The risks of mouth breathing
Just 20 to 30 minutes of mouth breathing lowers the body oxygen level—and many people who mouth breathe do so for multiple hours. If your body oxygen level (also known as the Control Pause) is low and you have a malignant tumor, this lower level encourages the growth of the tumor at night while you breathe through the mouth. For patients with sinusitis, the bacteria in the sinuses multiply and colonize new mucosal surfaces in individuals who breathe through the mouth. Other consequences of mouth breathing can include damage to the heart muscle, inflammation of the GI tract, the spread of skin pathogens such as eczema and psoriasis, and more.
You probably do not even know if you are breathing through the mouth, as this is an unconscious habit—especially if you are doing it when you sleep. Determining this is rather simple; if you have a dry mouth when you wake up in the morning, then it is very likely you are engaging in mouth breathing. Other symptoms of mouth breathing include a stuffy nose, frequent coughing, and even fatigue.
How mouth taping works
Mouth taping is fairly simple. All you need is surgical tape and some sort of cream to prevent the tape from sticking too much to your skin. Micropore, 3M, and Vaseline all are popular choices. Place a small portion of cream on the lips, making it easy to remove the tape in the morning. Take a small piece of the tape and place it vertically, in the middle of your mouth while closed. If you are worried about sealing the mouth completely, you can tape just one side of the mouth, leaving you some space for emergency breathing.
This is known as the Buteyko method, named after its originator, Dr. Konstantin Buteyko, who started using mouth taping in Russia in the 1960s.
You also should consider making some changes to your sleeping environment, to make mouth taping as comfortable as possible. These changes include:
Avoid sleeping on the back – When you lie on your back, your breathing becomes almost twice as heavy, making it difficult to pump the proper amount of air solely through the nose.
Cool off – Overly warm sleeping conditions make your breaths deeper during the night. Use fewer warm blankets and wear fewer warm clothes to prevent overheating.
Bedroom carpets – If your bedroom is carpeted, your air quality is significantly worse. Even a clean carpet accumulates dust and dust mites that are invisible to the naked eye. These particles and irritates enter the nasal passages, where they can penetrate into the bronchi and the lungs, stressing the immune system and making breathing labored.
Change your bedding – If you have dusty pillowcases, blankets, and sheets, this can have the same effect on your respiratory system as bedroom carpeting. The same applies for any books, newspapers, hanging clothes, and curtains. Keep your bedroom as clean as possible to improve the air quality. You also can improve the air quality by opening windows at night or buying an air purifier to run while you sleep.
Sleep Better in Hyde Park
Mouth taping only is considered as a temporary method to stop mouth breathing. If you attempt the Buteyko method without resolving the issue, an expertly trained dentist like the ones on staff at University Dental Professionals can help you find relief and begin breathing the ideal way—through the nose. To learn more, call our office at (773) 684-5702 to schedule a consultation.
University Dental Professionals is proud to provide state-of-the-art oral health care to patients in the Hyde Park area of Chicago.