Experts Say TikTok's Mouth Taping Trend Could Be Dangerous
A new wellness trend has TikTokkers taping their mouths shut at night to breathe better and improve sleep. While the trend might not be as foolish as the infamous Tide Pod Challenge, doctors say mouth taping could be dangerous.
“There is limited evidence on the benefits of mouth taping and I would be very careful — and even talk to your health care provider before attempting it,” said sleep specialist and clinician Dr. Raj Dasgupta in an interview with CNN.
Dasgupta stressed that it could be especially worrisome for people who have obstructive sleep apnea, a common sleep disorder in which your airway partially or completely collapses at night. Experts estimate around 15% to 30% of males and 10% to 15% of females have obstructive sleep apnea, though it often goes undiagnosed.
If you have obstructive sleep apnea, a disorder that impairs breathing, then taping your mouth could make that problem worse, doctors say.
Mouth taping has been around for years, but it recently took off on TikTok, where the tag #mouthtaping has over 37 million views. The idea is that taping your mouth shut while you sleep trains you to breathe through your nose, which clinicians say is preferable to mouth breathing.
“I’ve been watching so many videos about the effects of mouth breathing, and I am scared and shocked,” TikTokker Olivia Sweet says in a recent video, adding that she plans on mouth taping.
@oliviasweettt Was anybody else unaware of the horrible effects of mouth breathing…..? #mouthbreathing #obstructivesleepapnea #allergies #frequentinfections #nasalbreathing #breath #breathe #sleep #sleephygiene #chronicfatigue #smallmouth #stuffedup #sick #illness #health #didyouknow ♬ original sound - Olivia Sweet
Sweet's video has blown up on the platform, garnering 5.2 million views since its upload at the end of September.
Although TikTokkers like Sweet don't seem to be aware of mouth taping’s potential dangers, the trend isn’t entirely misguided.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, mouth breathing can lead to a variety of health issues, including sleep apnea, dental problems, behavioral issues, and learning difficulties. Mouth breathing can even alter a child’s features, experts say, leading to “narrowed faces with receding chins or jaws.”
@baptisthealthsf You may have seen a trend on here going around about #mouthtaping. Our sleep expert, Dr. Timothy Grant, debunks this trend and tells us why it can actually be dangerous for your health! #mouthtape #healthtok #healthtips #health #wellness #sleep #sleeptips #trending #LearnonTikTok #discover #antiaging #breathwork #mouthtapingforsleep #wellnesstips #discoverpage #fyp #foryoupage ♬ Little Things - Adrian Berenguer
On the other hand, breathing through your nose is healthy, as it filters, moistens, and warms the air, improving absorption and preventing pollutants and allergens from entering the lungs.
The bottom line? Even if you’re concerned about mouth breathing, talk to your doctor before you reach for a roll of tape.
“These issues should be addressed and evaluated first before mouth taping. In my opinion taping your mouth shut is not likely to help you sleep better,” Dasgupta told CNN.