Dry mouth is a common problem that people experience when they have sleep apnea because they tend to breathe through their mouths. Unfortunately, treatment with CPAP might actually make the problem worse.

How CPAP Causes Dry Mouth

CPAP forces air into your body (which is part of the reason it causes gassiness, too). When there are leaks in the CPAP mask, that air escapes the body, carrying with it all the moisture your body is generating to keep your mouth, nose, and throat moist. It’s like blow-drying inside your body, and it can be quite severe and even painful.
Man sleeping while wearing a CPAP mask.
Leaks can occur around an improperly fitted mask. Many people who use a nose-only mask may also find that they sleep with their mouth open, allowing air and moisture to escape.

How to Avoid Dry Mouth with CPAP

There are many strategies to try and avoid dry mouth with CPAP. First, make sure your current CPAP mask is properly fitted. This helps avoid leaks.

Using a humidifier in your CPAP can help, although it may not be enough if you have leaks or have your mouth open.

Strategies to keep your mouth closed include using a chin strap that pulls the mouth closed. Some people even tape their mouth closed.

If you can’t comfortably keep your mouth closed at night, you can try some medications for dry mouth. These stimulate saliva and coat airway tissues with a protective film that helps prevent drying.

You can also try changing to a different mask. Especially if you currently have a nose-only mask, you might try getting a full face mask. This improves the effectiveness of a humidifier, but it may be less comfortable and may increase the risk of acne breakouts.

There’s Also an Alternative

But if you find that your dry mouth is worse with CPAP and just doesn’t get any better, maybe you need to consider another treatment option. An oral appliance can put your airway into a comfortable, open position that allows you to breathe more normally without causing more drying than you would normally experience while breathing through your mouth.

To learn whether an oral appliance could work for your sleep apnea, please call (402) 493-4175 for an appointment with an Omaha sleep dentist at the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center.