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May 25, 2016

Mouth Taping to Treat Snoring and Dry Mouth

A patient brought to my attention a Buteyko breathing method that involves taping the mouth shut before going to sleep to prevent mouth-opening and mouth-breathing. By preventing the mouth from opening while sleeping, it can prevent the mouth from drying out as well as decrease not only snoring intensity but also reduce sleep apnea severity.

This technique of mouth taping does work based on small studies. A 2015 study found that snoring and sleep apnea scores improved significantly with mouth taping. However, I should also state that the study did NOT find that mouth-taping cured snoring nor sleep apnea. Just decreased the severity. Obviously, mouth-taping only applies to individuals who sleep with the mouth open.

A more conventional treatment for mouth-breathing while asleep would involve wearing a chin strap, but the chin strap can cause some individuals to feel claustrophic. If nasal obstruction is present, this needs to be corrected first as well.

Should one desire to try mouth-taping, here are the instructions:
  1. Obtain a roll of medical tape that is hypoallergenic, porous, and non-waterproof. 3M Micropore Tape works well, but if you have sensitive skin, paper tape can be used too.
  2. Apply lip balm to the lips and than purse the lips inward slightly while closing the mouth.
  3. Apply the tape vertically in the midline such that the lips are taped together. You can tape in such a way that only the middle third of the lips are covered. Only a 1.5 - 3 inch strip is needed. (If you have a mustache or beard, you may be out of luck and a chin strap would be the way to go.)
  4. If the tape sticks to the skin too much such that it hurts to remove or irritates the skin too much, apply the tape on and off to your clothing before applying in order to reduce the stickiness.
That's it!


Reference:
Novel porous oral patches for patients with mild obstructive sleep apnea and mouth breathing: a pilot study. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2015 Feb;152(2):369-73. doi: 10.1177/0194599814559383. Epub 2014 Dec 1.


Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids. Google+ Christopher Chang, MD Bio

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