#177: Mark Burhenne, DDS- Mouth Taping to Increase Sleep Quality and Stop Mouth Breathing

by Deanna Mutzel, DC



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Mike Mutzel Podcast High Intensity Health


About Mark Burhenne, DDS

Mark is a bestselling author and a family and sleep medicine dentist who has been in private practice nearly 30 years, focusing on patient-centered and preventative dental healthcare with patients who come to him from all over the world. He received his degree from the Dugoni School of Dentistry in San Francisco and is a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine. The day his wife was diagnosed with sleep apnea was the day he began learning everything he could about sleep breathing conditions. He is a TEDx speaker and his advice regularly appears on media outlets such as CNN, CBS, Yahoo! Health, The Huffington Post, Prevention, Men's Health, and MindBodyGreen. He is the creator of, dedicated to exploring the mouth-body connection for better overall health.

Connect with Mark

Books Discussed in this Podcast

The 8-Hour Sleep Paradox: How We Are Sleeping Our Way to Fatigue, Disease and Unhappiness

3m Micropore Surgical Tape 1/2″ x 10 Yards with Dispenser (Pack of 3)



Interview Show Notes

02:49 Mouth Breathing: Mouth breathing changes the hemodynamics of blood flow in your body and brain. It causes dry mouth which can lead to more cavities, bad breath, coated tongue, yellow tongue, or geographic tongue. It can cause or aggravate gum disease, make you snore more and is involved in sleep apnea. If you are a mouth breather as a child, it changes how your face and airway develop and effects how you sleep for the rest of your life. Mouth breathing lessens the amount of nitric oxide that is created. It impacts the humidity of the lungs.

03:44 Stomach Acid: The C-pap reverses intrathoracic pressure. A C-pap blows air into us at a greater pressure than our internal pressures. When the mouth and nose are both off line, stomach acids get pulled out of the stomach and into the mouth, effecting your teeth. GERD can be seen in the mouth.

04:30 Nose Breathing during Exercise: Pressure breath or breath stepping is a technique for nose breathing while mountaineering at high altitudes. During exercise, try to keep your mouth closed, even as you reach maximum heartrate. Breathing properly gets oxygen to the muscles that need it.

07:14 Mouth Breathing during Sleep: There is a spectrum of sleep disordered breathing between healthy breathing and sleep apnea. You may have issues even if you don’t snore. Snoring is from a narrowing of the airway. You may be beyond snoring with a full airway obstruction that wakes you. Adrenals kick in.

08:30 Bernoulli Effect: When you push a great deal of water or air into a pipe and that pipe is collapsible and soft, it will want to narrow even more. Breathing through your nose slows the process. Your breath goes through a maze of nasal passages lined with mucosa. It slows and humidifies the air. It meters the amount of air entering the airway.

09:25 Get Checked Out: Mouth taping during sleep can be very helpful. Make sure to work with a health care professional. Mouth taping will not fix sleep apnea.

10:20 Narrow Airway Trend: Alert to this trend is Darwinian Dentistry. Our airways have changed. The posterior nasal apertures, where post nasal drip occurs, are getting narrower and shorter. This could be caused by humans becoming agrarian and eating more carbs, or more recently, our increase in chemicals, diet, allergies, histaminic response, adenoids, tonsils, or lack of breastfeeding. At least 80% of us are not breathing properly.

12:29 Reversing Structural Changes: There is almost nothing that can be done to reverse the effects of poor development. The oral appliance that dentists use to solve mild to moderate sleep apnea pushes the jaw forward. It repositions the tongue and opens the airway.

13:24 Impacts of Not Breathing Properly: If we are not breathing properly, we gain weight, insulin resistance increases, we crave carbs, we can gain fat in our airway, and the airway narrows.  Your nose dries out and you lose the mucosa in the nose along with its filtering capacity. Your histaminic response will plug your nose.

15:03 Benefits of Mouth Taping: Mouth taping can be challenging, but gets easier over time. You start humidifying the nose, rebuilding the biome in the nose and getting it to do what it is supposed to do.  Sometimes the tape comes off during the night repeatedly. This is an indication that you have an obstruction in your nose that needs attention.

16:18 Sleep Apnea: If you cannot breathe through your nose, typically, you will develop sleep apnea. Even with an appliance, C-pap or A-pap, you need to breathe through you nose. Surgery may be an option if you cannot breathe through your nose. An ENT addresses surgical options. Not all ENTs recommend mouth tapping.

17:38 Children: If your child is not breathing properly, snoring at night, mouth is open, has ADHD, and/or is tired and acting out. Dr. Burhenne recommends seeing a pediatric ENT. If they are impeding the airway, tonsils and adenoids are removed. This surgical procedure had fallen out of practice, but it is now being done more often, ensuring proper development of the airway. Sometimes the swollen tonsils are from mouth breathing. Older children may be candidates for mouth taping. The drive to breathe is a basic instinct. Extended breastfeeding has a huge impact upon the development of the airway and facial development.

26:11 Mouth Taping with Sleep Apnea: If you have had surgery for sleep apnea, mouth taping is fine. Mouth taping verifies that the surgery was effective. It can work with the therapies involved with sleep apnea. Even good mouth breathers find that mouth taping during sleep improves sleep quality.

28:14 Mouth Taping with a Cold or Allergies: Dr. Burhenne makes sure to mouth tape when he has a cold. It is challenging. Lower your heartrate at bedtime to help with air flow. Your nose will feel better in the morning if you keep the tape on your mouth all night.

30:13 Dr. Burhenne’s New Book: Sleepy Head will be about helping parents with prenatal, pregnancy and post-pregnancy advice on what to take and what to do to ensure that your child develops properly. By eliminating some environmental factors, eating the right foods, and taking supplements (especially vitamin K2), you can profoundly optimize your child’s future.

32:30 Quality and Quantity Sleep Improvements: During mouth taping dreams seem to be more frequent and more vivid. The blood flow in the brain changes. The prefrontal cortex gets a better oxygen load and deoxyhemoglobin does not decrease as much, for better oxygenation. Dr. Burhenne would like to see more depth in research on mouth breathing and mouth taping during sleep.

34:18 Benefits of REM Sleep: During deep REM sleep, we experience synaptic pruning, the cleanup of neurons, memory consolidation, the detoxification of the brain. The brain is the largest user of energy in the body and has a great deal of waste. The brain shrinks in deep sleep. The theory is that it is due to the removal of toxins. There is a link between poor sleep and dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other brain disorders.

36:15 Kombucha: It is a great probiotic drink. Acid is hard on the enamel of your teeth. Saliva buffers pH and helps to remineralize teeth. Teeth are constantly demineralizing and remineralizing internally and externally. The pH of the mouth is important. The bacteria in the mouth go crazy over processed carbohydrates like crackers, similar to the reaction to candy. Kombucha is an acidic drink. The enamel softens and remineralizes, given time. If you brush your teeth immediately after drinking kombucha, you are brushing away enamel and interfering with the remineralization process. Wine or balsamic salad dressing are somewhat similar.

19:04 Cavities and Staining: Cavities are not an issue of hygiene. They are an issue of nutrition. We need certain ingredients inside of our teeth so they can exist in the mouth and remineralize. Today’s diet does not support this. When drinking kombucha or soda, finish it very quickly and swish afterward with water. It is not the amount you drink, it is the time of exposure that is important to your teeth. When Europeans drink wine, they also have a bottle of Pellegrino, which is high alkaline. Perrier is acidic. It is hard to stay ahead of the staining of coffee. The stains cannot always be removed. It is slightly acidic. Tea can stain, but not as badly as coffee. If you have a dry mouth, the staining will be worse.

44:20 Xylitol: There is a synthetic version, to be avoided, and a natural form. The bacteria in your mouth respond to the natural form. It is a growth factor, a nourisher that establishes a good biome. Mouthwashes are killers and antiseptics. Regrowth of bacteria after the use of mouthwash can be out of balance.

49:35 How to Mouth Tape: Dr. Burhenne uses the 1 inch micropore 3M tape. The tape may be too sticky, so you can put it on your skin first to detune it, then your lips. The goal is to seal your lips and to have the tape on in the morning. Tape horizontally. If that doesn’t work try other positions. It is easy. Use normal closed lip posture. If you cannot close your mouth and keep your lips closed with tape, you need a referral. When you take the tape off, peel it off carefully. It does not give you chapped lips. You tend to get chapped lips when you are breathing in dry air over your lips. Couples should do it together so both will sleep well.


Related Podcast: #145: Mark Burhenne, DDS- How to Sleep Deeper and Prevent Sleep Apnea

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  1. Very interesting, my wife snores and often sleeps with her mouth open. I will see if she will give this a try.

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