If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, chances are that your doctor has prescribed a CPAP machine. This therapy is a wonderful way to treat apnea and help you get a great night’s sleep and feel better from head to toe. However, it does come with an annoying side effect that we could all do without. A dry mouth.
So how do we deal with dry mouth without getting rid of our dream-making machine? This dilemma is something everyone who uses a CPAP device nightly has asked, and it's a question for the experts. So we asked them, and here is what they had to say.
Maybe It’s Not Your Machine
Just because you are suffering from dry mouth while using a CPAP machine doesn’t necessarily mean the machine is the reason for your dry mouth. Many other causes of chronic dry mouth have nothing to do with your CPAP, including:
Reasons Why You Get Dry Mouth Using a CPAP Machine
Dry mouth is not exactly a medical issue that specific to CPAP use. It is a result of air getting into your mouth if you are unable to keep it closed while wearing CPAP. The best way to get rid of dry mouth is by finding ways to keep your mouth closed all night long.
What Complications Can Dry Mouth Cause?
Dry mouth itself is uncomfortable and irritating. However, chronic dry mouth can lead to some pretty severe health issues if left untreated.
When you are suffering from a dry mouth, you are essentially suffering from a lack of saliva. Salvia plays an essential role in your body, and without it, you will start to notice some nasty side effects, which include:
You’re probably wondering how a lack of saliva could cause so many different issues. It’s because your saliva plays a significant role in how you chew, swallow, and clean your teeth. Your saliva wets your food to make it easy to swallow. It also has enzymes that help break down food before it reaches your stomach, relieving indigestion. These same enzymes help to keep your mouth clean and kill infection-causing bacteria.
How to Get Rid Of Dry Mouth
Now that you know why you have started to get dry mouth from using your CPAP machine and know for a fact that it isn’t coming from another source, we have some tips on how to help get rid of it.
1.Use a Chin Strap
A chin strap is a device used to help keep your mouth closed while wearing your CPAP mask at night. It is an elastic band that wraps around your head and face to securely hold your mouth closed at night, allowing the CPAP machine to put the proper amount of air up into your nostrils.
If a chin strap becomes uncomfortable or you can’t seem to get used to keeping it on all night, you may want to talk with your respiratory therapist about switching to a full face mask. A full-face mask will help keep you from breathing room air through your mouth while wearing the CPAP on your nose.
2. Try a Heated Humidifier
Many CPAP users complain to their sleep doctors or respiratory therapists that their machine’s air pressure is causing their mouths to become dry. As a simple solution to the problem, suppliers started using a heated humidifier to give the patient an easy way to battle dry mouth.
A heated humidifier has a hot plate or other heating element located under the water chamber that heats the water before it is pulled from the tank and released through the tubing. Heated water produces more humidity, ultimately keeping more moisture in your mouth.
For a little extra help with keeping the air warm, you can try using heated tubing; this keeps the air warm flowing up and out the tube. You can purchase heated tubing from most DME providers.
To learn more about heated humidifiers check out our article what is a CPAP humidifier and why is it important.
3. Use a Dry Mouth Tablet/ Rinse
Using a dry mouth tablet, like Xylimelts is a great way to keep your mouth moist and fresh while using your CPAP machine or after you take it off for the day. These tabs stick in place to your mouth and slowly release saliva inducers and oral lubrication to prevent dry mouth and all of the negative health concerns that go with it.
Another product to try is a dry mouth rinse. These rinses stimulate your saliva glands to increase the moisture produced in your mouth. Rinsing before you go to bed at night and even a few times during the day can help keep the saliva production in high gear to prepare you for the night.
4. Mouth Sleep Strips
If you are struggling to keep your mouth closed at night and you find the chin strap just isn’t cutting it, you can always try using a mouth sleep trip like Somnifix. These mouth strips are adhesive strips that cover your mouth, sealing your lips closed.
These strips can be used safely with your CPAP machine, giving you two nighttime sleep aids in one.
Using a mouth sleep strip at night will improve your breathing, helping you sleep, and relieving dry mouth symptoms.
5. Check Your Mask Fittings
If you notice that air is leaking through your mask or that your CPAP compliance isn’t showing the best results, that could be due to a mask defect or improper fit. Ask your respiratory therapist to check your mask fittings and make sure it is sitting correctly on your face so that there is no air coming out through the edges.
It is also crucial that you are replacing your equipment frequently. After months of sleeping on your mask and moving around, your mask will start to wear, and it won’t function like it used to. Keeping your supplies up to date will ensure you have working equipment to give you the best results.
Does Dry Mouth Last Forever?
For many people, dry mouth is a temporary problem and will go away within a few months of using your machine. That’s why it is very important to keep with the therapy and no matter how difficult it may seem in the beginning, remember you are working towards a much bigger goal that will provide a ton of benefits.
If you combat your dry mouth discomfort with one of the helpful tools listed above and make it through the begging period of your CPAP therapy, it will get easier. Work with your respiratory therapist and communicate often.
Things to Get You by
If you are struggling with dry mouth and our suggestions haven’t helped, here are a few more ideas that may help.
Using a CPAP machine to treat your sleep apnea is the best way to improve your sleep and health. Although the dry mouth associated with this therapy may be an annoyance, it is something that you can correct and should never be a reason for you to discontinue your CPAP usage.
If you are struggling with dry mouth after using your CPAP machine, talk with your sleep medicine specialist or your respiratory therapist, they are the experts who can find the cause of your problem and find the right solution to help solve it.
Damon Wiseley is a Registered Respiratory Therapist and Certified Pulmonary Function Technologist.