Allergies, weight gain, and Obstructive Sleep Apnea all can lead to mouth breathing at night. While mouth breathing may seem innocent at first, it can bring with it many health issues and makes using a CPAP device more challenging. Let’s look at some of the health implications of mouth breathing and what you can do to start breathing through your nose and enjoy the full benefits of your Sleep Apnea therapy.
What are the health problems associated with mouth breathing at night?
Breathing through your mouth can cause a range of health concerns – from seemingly innocuous bad breath to more serious issues like periodontal disease, physical abnormalities, and cognitive challenges.
Breathing through your mouth can cause dry mouth, which reduces the saliva’s ability to remove bacteria from the mouth and contributes to tooth cavities and gingivitis.
Many experts agree, biologically, humans are meant to breathe through the nose. The nose serves many functions for respiration, including warming the air and filtering out germs and other harmful substances. The mouth does none of those things.1
If mouth breathing is so unnatural, why do people do it? In many cases, the issue is simple: nasal congestion. If the sinuses are partially blocked, the only way a person can breathe is through the mouth. Nasal congestion can make it especially hard to breathe at night, and mouth breathing may be the only option.1
What are the leading CPAP options for mouth breathers?
There are a few routes for CPAP users who suffer mouth breathing while sleeping, including managing sinus passages to promote nasal breathing, using a chinstrap, or opting for a full-face CPAP mask.
Keeping Sinuses Clear
Keeping your sinuses clear will help you breathe through your nose more easily. Both over-the-counter sinus medications and surgery can help maintain your sinus passages.
A good test to determine if your sinuses are congested (thereby driving increased mouth-breathing tendencies) is to simply take a normal breath through your nose. Any resistance while inhaling or exhaling is abnormal.
Doctors may prescribe a simple OTC medication or recommend a nasal rinse like a saline spray or neti pot, or an ENT may suggest surgery if a structural anomaly exists that makes nose breathing difficult. The bottom line? If your nose is blocked you’ll be more likely to breathe through your mouth.
Some individuals have a physical predisposition to breathe through their mouths, and part of this is related to the mouth simply falling open while asleep.
If this is the case, a purpose-built chinstrap can help keep the mouth closed and the CPAP working more effectively throughout the night.
These CPAP chinstraps are constructed of comfortable fabric and often use Velcro to ensure a snug fit.
Some people find this to be the solution to mouth breathing at night, while others are less enamored with the idea of their mouth being coaxed shut all night. Chinstraps may still allow air to escape through the mouth and might not be comfortable for all users.
Using a Full-Face Mask
To minimize the chance of excessive air leakage during CPAP use, mouth breathers can opt for a full-face mask instead of a traditional nasal cushion.
A CPAP full-face mask fits comfortably over the mouth and nose, and can deliver plenty of healthy, pressurized air throughout the night.
A full face mask may be your only option if you have a facial structure that’s more inclined to mouth breathing. What do we mean by that? Scientists found that certain types of facial structures make nasal breathing difficult. This is caused by genetics and bone structure– it’s the way you were born.
In these cases, you’d need a full face mask.
Combine a full-face mask with a heated humidifier and you’ll feel the difference almost immediately. The only drawback? Some people find that the bulk of a full-face mask makes sleeping more challenging, though there are numerous CPAP pillows on the market today that can help with sleep position and overall comfort while in bed.
Being a mouth breather doesn’t mean you have to settle for less-than-stellar CPAP performance. In fact, there are so many masks, chinstraps, oral positioning devices, medications, and surgical options available today, you won’t have to suffer in silence any longer. For more information about using a CPAP and mouth breathing while sleeping, contact CPAP.com today!
We’ve written a comprehensive guide to CPAP masks that you can use to answer questions you may have about different masks and how to get the most out of your CPAP therapy.
1. Trabalon, Marie, and Schaal, Benoist. It Takes a Mouth to Eat and a Nose to Breathe: Abnormal Oral Respiration Affects Neonates’ Oral Competence and Systemic Adaptation. Published in the medical journal: “International Journal of Pediatrics” on July 3, 2012. Accessed on August 27, 2018.
Daniela has researched and published over 60 articles covering topics that aim to inform and empower people living with Sleep Apnea. As an avid reader and researcher, Daniela continues to grow her knowledge about Sleep Apnea and CPAP therapy everyday with the help of coworkers, CPAP.com customers, and members of other CPAP communities online.