CPAP Dry Mouth

How to Prevent and Treat CPAP Dry Mouth?

CPAP dry mouth is one of the main causes to abandon the CPAP therapy.

Dry mouth is a sign of air leaking from your CPAP mask or from sleeping with your mouth open.

  • preventing opening the mouth using: chin straps, mouth taping, poligrips and bandages,
  • using a full face mask, a humidifier, or improving tongue position during sleep,
  • or using CPAP dry mouth medications.

In this article will discuss these methods, including their benefits and side effects.

Causes of CPAP Dry Mouth

Why do I get dry mouth using CPAP?

Dry mouth usually results from sleeping with the mouth open, or from having CPAP mask leaks.

Small leaks or short leak spikes for brief periods of time are common in CPAP users, and they are not a big issue.

However, a leak rate over 24L/min for a long period of time, or air leaks from mouth breathing are enough to seriously impact your therapy and also cause severe dry mouth.

When leaks can be a concern?

Unless you are having "large" leaks lasting for 30 minutes or so, you don't need to worry about them as long as your AHI is good and your can feel the therapy is working.

For example, if your AHI runs between 1.8 and 2.0 mostly, you have to quit worrying so much about the leaks. If you can feel or hear a leak, just adjust your mask. Sometimes your mouth may feel dry, but not every day.

To monitor your AHI, you have to use a special software. Here is an example of how to use ResScan software from ResMed.

CPAP mouth dryness is often found in users with nasal masks or nasal pillows (if they sleep with their mouth open). This clinical study demonstrates the effect of mouth leaks in patients with nasal therapy.

Excessive dry mouth and throat is a common problem not only in patients with CPAP, but also in those:

  • with oral appliances,
  • with other health problems like snoring, bruxism, narcolepsy,
  • or in those with nasal congestion - the patient is forced to open his mouth in sleep because his nose is congested and the CPAP airflow cannot get through.

Solutions for CPAP Dry Mouth

How to prevent dry mouth with CPAP?

Eliminate the Cause

Firstly, you have to discover why you are a mouth breather. It could be that something is blocking your nose, like deviated septum, or nasal congestion.

If you have dry mouth and a stuffy nose, you may want to discuss your nasal obstructions with your sleep specialist. CPAP therapy can be difficult while having nasal problems.

 Heated humidification is very important to prevent CPAP dry mouth.

Sleep doctors believe that everyone should benefit from heated humidification, especially those with mid to high range pressures. I hope you are using your humidifier, and remember, it's the moisture you want, not necessarily the heat.

Some patients with successful CPAP treatment, keep their heat settings only on 2, even on their high pressure.

Humidity seems to be a very personal thing but maybe try turning it down a few notches and see what happens.

Drinking Water

Keeping a glass of water by the bedside is another good idea. It's a good practice to take a few sips of water in the middle of the night, perhaps even to have a small cup ready next to your bed to avoid having to get up.

Drinking water during the night.

It's better if you avoid drinking large amounts of water. It may disturb your sleep from bladder tension. If you do wake in the night with even a mild sense of bladder distension, it's better to get up and void.

Attempts to go back to sleep with bladder distension are likely to fail or will result in repeated arousals.

CPAP dry mouth medications

The best products are:

  • XyliMelts - The product is new on the market, but you will find on their website testimonials from CPAP users.
  • Biotene Oral Balance Moisturizing Gel - put some gel in your mouth, enough to cover and coat the mouth very well.
  • Biotene has also many products for dry mouth, including mouth sprays, but the gel is the most effective.

  • Cann-ease is a gel for dry nose.

Using a Full Face Mask

It doesn't matter if you have mouth leaks, because the air is still contained within the mask. So you'll get good CPAP therapy whether you're breathing through your nose or mouth.

However, even with full face masks some CPAP users can have dry mouth. But they will have their air pressure maintained.

Tips for keeping your mouth closed during sleep

Using a chin strap

You can use a CPAP chin strap by Respironics to keep your mouth closed during sleep.

For some people simply keeping the jaw "up" seals the mouth by also keeping the tongue up and allows the tongue to maintain an airtight seal inside the mouth. If that works, that's the simplest solution to CPAP dry mouth.

Alternative method: Try making your own chin strap. Just cut the leg off a panty hose tights, put your chin in the middle and tie the ends above your head.

For more on chin straps for CPAP users, see CPAP Chin Strap.

Tongue Position

Learn to keep your tongue pressed to the roof of the mouth. This method helps to prevent mouth leaks by stopping the air getting out, thus no more CPAP dry mouth.

Make an effort before falling asleep to seal your lips and create a small suction inside your mouth and push your tongue forward against your teeth and up to the roof of your mouth. The suction should hold your tongue there.


(during the day) keeping your tongue positioned in the roof of the mouth.

Using a chin strap will increase the effectiveness of mouth sealing, by keeping the jaw up.

Mouth taping

Mouth taping is a tested with success method by hundreds of CPAP users, but is not recommended by doctors.

Keeping your mouth shut with tape seems a shock for many of us, but this method works for many patients. However, not every tape is good, and the position of the strips on the mouth has to be tested.

Here is a good method for mouth taping:

  • Best tape to use: Nexcare Gentle Paper Tape (3M Micropore Surgical Tape) 2-inches wide.
  • Wash thoroughly and dry your face.
  • Apply chapstick to lips (to make sure nothing sticks to them).
  • Roll under about 1/16 inch of tape end to form tab for easy/quick removal of tape in morning - no worries about choking or suffocating at all.
  • Cut length of tape to cover lips plus about 3/4 inch on each side of lips.
  • Turn lips slightly (opposite of puckering) and center and apply tape horizontally across lips. This way when you lay down and gravity does it's thing, you don't end up with lip flutters or being able to open your mouth a bit.

This video explains how to mouth tape when you use the CPAP machine.

Is Mouth Taping Dangerous?

Although nobody complained yet, is good to know that if you have a other conditions, such as asthma, or acid reflux, you can obstruct your airway in sleep.

This method should be your last choice, so please explore other options instead of attempting this practice.

Bottom line... If if you're prone to vomiting in your sleep, don't tape.

For more on mouth taping, see Forum discussions.

Controlling mouth leaks without tape:

Some CPAP user control their mouth leaks without resorting to drastic measures like taping the lips together. They use a modified ACE bandage combined with chin strap, to prevent having puffy cheeks (from the air that fills the closed mouth).

For more on ACE bandage (with pictures), see another forum discussion.


Having CPAP dry mouth means you are blowing air through your mouth.

A relatively leak free mask is the key to successful CPAP compliance and therapy, without dry mouth problems. Too high a leak rate can drive up your provided pressure.

CPAP is a challenge and for some of us a very difficult one, but the challenges can be met and over come. So, with faith, you can and will master the CPAP treatment and its CPAP dry mouth problems.

› CPAP Dry Mouth

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