CPAP therapy is a revelation for anyone who has sleep apnea. However, the continual flow of air into your upper respiratory tract can lead to side effects such as CPAP dry mouth, which happens if you open your mouth throughout the night. If you wear a nasal or nasal pillow mask, open-mouth breathing can reduce the effectiveness of your CPAP therapy and cause you to wake up with a dry mouth.
Inhaling through your mouth can feel natural to you or be the result of an untreated medical condition like asthma, allergies, enlarged tonsils, or deviated nasal passages. However, evidence shows that nasal breathing is better for your health as it triggers your relaxation response, regulates your heart rate, and boosts your immune system. Breathing through your nose has the primary function of filtering bacteria from your air, adding moisture, and maintaining your respiratory system’s balance.
Can CPAP Therapy Cause Dry Mouth?
CPAP therapy itself doesn’t lead to dry mouth—rather, if you sleep with your mouth open for all or part of the night, you’re at risk of drying out your mouth, throat, and nasal passages. A CPAP machine continually pushes air through your nose and mouth. With your mouth open, you’ll miss out on the filtration and humidification services that your nose provides, which may cause you to wake up feeling parched, congested, and sore.
Chronic dry mouth can lead to a variety of further health problems such as dry lips, bad breath, tooth decay, gum disease, and mouth soreness or infection. Saliva is necessary to good health as it contains vital antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that prevent dental cavities. It also neutralizes gastric acid from food and drink, preventing acid reflux.
Top 5 Tips to End CPAP Dry Mouth
Now that we’ve discussed what could be causing your CPAP dry mouth, let’s dive into some possible solutions.
1. Fix Mask Leaks or Damaged Equipment
Take a look at your equipment to make sure it’s in tip-top shape. First things first, check for mask leaks. If your mask and headgear don’t fit correctly, humidified air can escape, letting dry air from the room get in. Be sure to choose a mask that fits well and get replacement parts as soon as there’s any sign of wear and tear. You can look into CPAP accessories like heated tubes to reduce condensation or liners to prevent mask leaks.
2. Consider a Full Face Mask
If trying a new mask is the solution for you, your physician might recommend that you try a full face CPAP mask. Full face masks cover your nose and mouth, giving you the ability to breathe through either. Another benefit of introducing a full face mask into your CPAP therapy is the wider surface area the mask covers. Full face masks adapt better to high-pressure settings as the air you inhale is less concentrated. Curious about the best full face masks? We’ve got you covered!
3. Incorporate a CPAP Humidifier
If you live in a dry climate or want more moisture added to your therapy air, try out a heated humidifier or cold humidifier that attaches right to your CPAP machine and lets you adjust the level of humidification for your ultimate comfort. You simply add water to the chamber, and it mimics the effects of the nasal canal—circulating moisture through the air you breathe, stopping CPAP dry mouth in its tracks.
4. Use a CPAP Chinstrap
If you prefer a nasal or nasal pillow mask, a chinstrap is a simple and practical method of preventing dry mouth caused by CPAP. A chinstrap supports your jaw and aligns your tongue, ensuring your seal stays secure.
5. Try Mouth Sleep Strips
We understand—your mouth opening throughout the night can be frustrating, and the ominous cloud of future health problems from mouth breathing can be daunting. However, for an easy, budget-friendly solution, give mouth sleep strips like the SomniFix Sleep Strips a try. SomniFix Sleep Strips are easy to take off and put on. The sleep strips promote nasal breathing and help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. They are a great solution if a chinstrap is not for you!
Frequently Asked Questions About CPAP Dry Mouth
Why Does CPAP Make My Mouth Dry?
CPAP typically makes the mouth dry for a number of reasons: you’re not using humidification, you use a nasal or nasal pillow mask and your mouth is falling open while you sleep, or your seal is leaking and you’re breathing in dry air from the room.
How Do I Stop Dry Mouth With CPAP?
CPAP dry mouth is common among those who prefer nasal and nasal pillow masks because the mouth tends to fall open, allowing air pressure to escape and robbing you of your therapy benefits. Taping your mouth or wearing a CPAP chinstrap can eliminate dry mouth from CPAP for good.
What Humidity Level Should My CPAP Be?
Humidification is a personal preference, so there’s no ‘ideal’ humidity setting for a CPAP machine. As a general rule, divide the maximum number of humidity settings your machine has and subtract one. For most machines, this will be a setting of three. Adjust up or down one setting at a time to find your desired comfort level.
Can You Sleep With Your Mouth Open With a CPAP Machine?
Without a full face mask, sleeping with your mouth open means that your therapy pressure is escaping out of your mouth, drying your airway out and preventing you from reaping the benefits of successful CPAP therapy.
Can You Use Mouth Tape With a CPAP Machine?
Using mouth tape or a chinstrap with a CPAP machine is a great way to keep your mouth closed when wearing a nasal or nasal pillow mask. Keeping your mouth closed during CPAP is essential for maximizing your therapy benefits and waking up refreshed and energized.
Be kind to yourself while you’re adapting to the changes brought on by your CPAP therapy. By making subtle therapy adjustments to fit your lifestyle, you’ll set yourself up for therapy success.
Remember, changing to a full face mask or using mouth-sealing strips, a CPAP chinstrap, or a humidifier with your therapy can greatly reduce the impact and severity of CPAP dry mouth. It’s also important to regularly inspect your equipment for deterioration that may be causing dry air from the bedroom to seep in and dry your mouth out during CPAP therapy.
Follow this advice and you’re sure to make CPAP dry mouth a thing of the past and sweet dreams a thing of the present!
Taylor has seen sleep apnea treatment first-hand and has learned the ins and outs through formal training in CPAP machines, masks, and equipment. She strives to make learning about sleep apnea and sleep apnea therapies a breeze. Interested in sharing your story or have a topic you’d like CPAP.com to investigate? Contact us!