💡 Key Takeaways
- CPAP Dry Mouth is Common: It’s normal to experience dry mouth when starting CPAP therapy. There are a few different reasons it can happen, and each has its own solution.
- Primary Causes: CPAP dry mouth can result from various factors, including mouth breathing, mask leaks, your mouth falling open during sleep, insufficient humidity from your CPAP machine, high CPAP pressure settings, and certain medications. It’s essential to identify the root cause to address it effectively.
- Preventive Measures: To combat dry mouth, you should ensure a proper mask fit, raise your humidity settings, try heated CPAP tubing, use CPAP chinstraps or mouth sleep strips, consider a full face mask, stay hydrated during the day, and/or consider using throat sprays or sugar-free candies.
- Final Recommendations: Addressing dry mouth is essential for long-term CPAP compliance and comfort. If problems persist, consult your healthcare provider for more personalized solutions and support.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure therapy can truly be life-changing for many people with sleep apnea, but unfortunately, it can also cause side effects like a dry mouth. When this issue arises, it’s best to address it quickly to avoid prolonged discomfort or serious oral health complications. To help you better understand how to manage CPAP dry mouth, we’re going over the causes and solutions of this unpleasant CPAP side effect.
Causes of CPAP Dry Mouth
Nasal CPAP masks are really popular, but they can come with some downsides if you tend to breathe through your mouth. When this happens, you breathe dry room air through your mouth rather than humidified CPAP air through your nose.
Mask leaks are a very common cause of CPAP dry mouth. If your mask does not fit correctly or the seal is not strong enough, it can lead to mask leaks. This occurs when a mask is unable to seal properly. As a result, CPAP air begins to leak out while dry room air is inhaled, ultimately causing your mouth to dry out.
Even if you don’t breathe through your mouth, sleeping with your mouth open can still lead to trouble if you use a nasal CPAP mask. When your mouth is left open during sleep, some CPAP air will go through your nose and out of your mouth rather than into your lungs. As that air leaves your mouth, it also carries any oral moisture away with it.
One of the go-to solutions for CPAP dry mouth is heated humidification. However, it is possible that your CPAP machine isn’t producing enough humidity. If you are experiencing dryness after using your CPAP device, the humidity level in your CPAP air may be too low.
In some cases, your Continuous Positive Airway Pressure settings may be too high. If this is the case, it can cause excess air to escape from your mouth, resulting in mouth leaks and dryness. CPAP pressure is usually not the main cause of dry mouth, but when combined with other factors, it can become a problem.
Your CPAP may not be causing your dry mouth at all. Sleep apnea often occurs with other medical conditions, which may require medication. Some of these medications can cause dry mouth as a side effect, and using a CPAP machine may amplify this effect. This side effect is common with some heart medications, blood pressure prescriptions, and sleep aides.
How to Prevent CPAP Dry Mouth
1. Check for Mask Leaks
First things first, check for mask leaks! Lie down in your typical sleeping position or sit upright in a relaxed posture. If your machine has a “Mask Fit Check” function, run it now, or start therapy as you normally would.
Take a few deep breaths through your CPAP mask. You may feel air blowing around the mask seal or even experience dry eyes or skin irritation. If you feel any air leakage, check to make sure that your CPAP mask is in good condition and adjust the fit.
2. Adjust Your Mask Fit
An ill-fitting CPAP mask can lead to all kinds of CPAP side effects, including skin irritation, air leaks, and dry mouth. To ensure a good mask fit, start by adjusting the topmost straps of your headgear and work your way down to the lower straps.
Adjust the straps as needed to create a secure fit, but avoid overtightening, as this can worsen air leaks. Your mask should be firmly in place; not too tight, but not too loose either.
If your mask still doesn’t fit well after a headgear adjustment, you may need to reconsider the cushion size you’re using or try another mask or mask type entirely.
3. Make Sure Your Mask Is in Good Shape
To keep a good seal, your mask cushion needs to be cleaned regularly and in good shape. Dirty, worn-out CPAP masks are more likely to cause air leaks and discomfort. Be sure to order replacement parts when there’s any sign of wear and tear. Some people find that using a mask liner can help them get a better, more consistent seal.
4. Consider a Full Face Mask
If you breathe through your mouth, you may need to choose a full face CPAP mask. A full face mask covers your nose and mouth, allowing you to breathe through either or both as needed. These masks are also better for high pressure settings as the air you inhale is less concentrated. Check out our guide for a list of our favorite full face masks!
5. Increase Your CPAP Humidity
If moisture is your issue, you can do a couple of things to improve your CPAP humidity. If possible, try increasing your CPAP humidity settings by one level at a time until you find a comfortable level. Some CPAP machines come with a heated humidifier, but you can purchase one separately if yours doesn’t. Another option is to order heated CPAP tubing, which keeps your CPAP air warm and full of moisture, allowing for a consistent therapy experience in any season or climate.
6. Use a CPAP Chinstrap
If you sleep with your mouth open but prefer to use a nasal pillow mask or traditional nasal CPAP mask, a chinstrap is a simple and practical solution for preventing dry mouth caused by CPAP. A CPAP chinstrap supports your jaw and aligns your tongue, ensuring your mouth stays closed and preventing mouth leaks.
7. Try Mouth Sleep Strips
CPAP chinstraps may not work for everyone. If that sounds familiar, you may be better suited to using mouth tape or strips. These products usually seal around your mouth to promote nasal breathing and eliminate mouth leaks. We love the SomniFix Sleep Strips because they are easy to put on and take off, and make a great substitute for anyone who just can’t get used to wearing a chinstrap.
8. Stay Hydrated
Drinking plenty of water throughout the day gives you a headstart when it comes time to turn on that CPAP machine. While you may not be able to totally eliminate CPAP dry mouth by doing this, keeping a glass of water beside your bed to sip on throughout the night can ease some of your discomfort. Throat sprays and hard, sugar-free candies may also help.
9. Talk to Your Doctor
If you have done all of the above and are still struggling with CPAP dry mouth, it may be time to talk to your doctor about potentially changing your Continuous Positive Airway Pressure settings. Your doctor or pharmacist can also help you determine whether any of your medications could be contributing to this issue.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is It Normal to Have Dry Mouth With CPAP?
Many people experience dry mouth when using a CPAP machine, especially if you are new to CPAP therapy. This can be caused by air flowing into the mouth, but it can also occur when air leaks out of the mouth.
Why Does CPAP Make My Mouth Dry?
There are a few reasons you may experience dry mouth with CPAP– you’re not using humidification, your mouth is falling open while using a nasal CPAP mask, or you’re breathing in dry room air because your mask is leaking air.
Why Is My Mouth So Dry When Using a Full Face CPAP Mask?
If you are experiencing a dry mouth while wearing a full face mask, the most likely culprit is a mask leak. Other causes include low humidity or high CPAP pressure. Keep in mind that some medications can also cause dry mouth, including over-the-counter sleep aids.
What Humidity Level Should I Set My CPAP To?
This is a personal preference, so there’s no ‘perfect’ humidity setting for a CPAP machine. Most manufacturers suggest starting at a setting of three, but you can adjust up or down one setting at a time to find your desired comfort level.
How Do You Treat Dry Mouth From CPAP?
To avoid CPAP dry mouth, make sure your mask fits correctly and use humidified air. If you tend to sleep with your mouth open, use a chinstrap or mouth tape to keep your mouth closed when sleeping, or switch to a full face mask.
Why am I Experiencing CPAP Dry Mouth Even With a Humidifier?
If you have adjusted your CPAP humidifier, there could be other reasons you are still experiencing dry mouth from CPAP. The most likely causes are mask leak, which is room air flowing into your mask, and mouth leak, which causes CPAP air to escape through your mouth.
If CPAP dry mouth is allowed to go on long term, it can lead to chronic discomfort and even impact your CPAP compliance. So, it’s important to address dry mouth when you first experience this side effect.
If you are struggling with a dry mouth from CPAP, start by making sure your CPAP mask fits correctly to avoid air leaks. You can also increase your CPAP humidifier settings if possible. And if you tend to sleep with your mouth open, try changing to a full face mask or using a CPAP chinstrap or mouth tape. If the problem persists, consult your healthcare provider or CPAP supplier for further guidance and support!
As always, be kind to yourself while adapting to the changes your CPAP therapy brings. By making subtle adjustments to fit your lifestyle, you’ll set yourself up for success!