Having trouble with dry mouth? A common complaint with CPAP is the morning dry mouth. Having a dry mouth can impact a good night’s sleep. Some CPAP users have enough dry mouth that it wakes them up. Having a cup of water at bedside is normal for some of these patients. Fortunately, dry mouth is usually an easy fix.
As you know by now, CPAP basically creates what we call an “airway splint.” The flow of air keeps the user’s throat open during sleep preventing any obstruction to breathing. The high flow of air however can lead to dry mouth. This usually happens for one of two reasons. Either the dry mouth is exacerbated by: 1)problems in humidity setting or 2) jaw dropping open during sleep. The dry mouth not only only creates a barrier to consistent use but also makes CPAP less efficient therapy .
So how do we fix this? Well, if the problem stems from humidity then the solution is in adjusting the level of humidity. Depending on the brand of machine, the settings are easily adjusted from the main menu. Humidity level is based on patient preference. There is no set standard or “correct” level so a period of trial and error is usually needed.
For some people the problem is that they open their mouth during sleep. When we sleep, we sleep in phases. During REM sleep, our muscles are paralyzed which makes us more susceptible to not only apneas but also mouth opening. If you are wearing a nasal mask or nasal pillow then all the pressure is lost through the mouth. The most simple solution would be to wear a chinstrap which essentially holds the jaw in place.
If you can’t wear a chin strap or simply wont wear one, you might want to consider a full face mask. Most people find nasal pillows or nasal mask easier to wear but some people are just mouth breathers. Although full face masks are generally well tolerated; for some people this can be claustrophobic or confining.
Remember that when starting any new therapy, there is often a period of adjustment. Don’t get discouraged! If dry mouth is the issue then adjusting your humidity, getting a chin strap, and/or switching to a full face mask may be the answer.