TikTokkers Say Mouth Breathing…


TikTokkers Say Mouth Breathing While You Sleep Can Change Your Facial Structure. Here’s What the Experts Think

TikTok, the new home for DIY health solutions —from both the most creative to the most dangerous – has another viral trend causing

concern among doctors. Influencers like Olivia Sweet, and others, are taking to social media claiming that mouth taping is the solution

to sleeping with an open mouth. Sweet explains that she’s been “watching a lot of videos” on why sleeping with your mouth open is a

terrible idea, from facial structure changes to causing a double chin, and has concluded she can “train herself” to keep her mouth

closed with her tape idea, and daytime awareness of her mouth’s position, to improve the problem in her sleep.

She posted an “after” video, a month later, showing what to her is a more defined jaw line after mouth taping. Here’s what experts

have to say about her claims that mouth breathing will alter our faces — and about her risky solution.

What Causes Open-Mouth Sleeping?

To fully understand how detrimental taping your mouth closed can be, you have to think through the reasons your mouth might be

falling open in the first place — your body is not dumb. In fact, it might be compensated for another issue, and trying to help you

breathe, and therefore stay alive. Dr. Kami Hoss, DDS, a San Diego-based dentist and author of If Your Mouth Could Talk, says, “When

relaxed, the tongue is supposed to gently rest behind the teeth on the roof of the mouth and the lips stay gently closed. Breathing is

supposed to happen through the nose almost all the time, except if the person is exercising hard or has temporary congestion.”

However, he adds, when the tongue can’t sit in that ideal position, there’s a reason, such as tongue ties, narrow palates, poor tone, or a

small jaw. When this happens, the tongue may move backward, and block the airway, interfering with breathing and oxygen intake,

which often worsens in sleep when muscles relax, he explains. 

Can Mouth Breathing Really Alter Your Facial Structure?

Double chins, sunken cheekbones, and less prominent jaw lines were Sweet’s fear, which she said was linked to her mouth breathing

problem. But research is mixed on just how much of an impact mouth breathing during sleep might have on facial structure, and

doesn’t draw such definitive conclusions. Studies have shown that normal nasal respiration is how our faces develop properly, and is

necessary for growth of balanced facial structures. Researchers conclude that mouth breathing might lead to changes in the posture of

the head and neck, and that chronic mouth breathing can result in an “adenoid face.” This type of facial structure involves a narrow

upper dental arch, changes in incisors, an imperfect lip seal, and an increased facial height. 

Hoss says, “Children will typically develop smaller mid-faces, nasal cavities and jaws since they don’t experience the normal air

resistance.” He also explains that the face may grow longer (long face syndrome), and with a mouth-breather, teeth typically erupt

much longer, causing everything from a “gummy smile to a skeletal open bite.”

So, while Sweet might have been using her own explanations for what was happening to her face (no study points directly to forming a

double chin), she might have been on the right track that mouth breathing can cause structural changes.

Is Mouth Breathing More Problematic for Children’s Facial Structure?

Dr. Mitchell Levine, dentist and orthodontist, and president-elect with the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, says mouth

taping is particularly dangerous for children.

“It would be valuable to know why you need to tape them in the first instance,” he says. “Presently, mouth taping is akin to employing

the lowest level of medical evidence at trying to manage a probable structural or physiological problem. It might be more beneficial to

discuss your concerns with your dentist or physician, before taking on the newest Tik Tok challenge.”

So, What’s a Mouth Breather to Do?

Instead of tape, there are both daytime and nighttime options for better breathing without resorting to an open mouth. In the

daytime, people can use breathing and tongue exercises which will also then help with nighttime breathing, Hoss says. People who are

mouth breathing should ask their doctor or dentist about these.


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