Addressing a Common Challenge: CPAP-Induced Dry Mouth


The potential of your CPAP machine to revolutionize your life is vast, promising restored sleep, heightened energy levels, and enhanced management of prevailing health conditions. However, we are acutely aware that using the CPAP device can occasionally present difficulties, nudging users towards discontinuation of treatment and inadvertently embracing serious health risks.

For this reason, we have undertaken a thorough investigation into prevalent grievances associated with CPAP masks and are now prepared to provide insights to you and your healthcare provider on how to mitigate them. Our exploration commences with the issue of dry mouth, a predicament that we trust our recommendations will help alleviate, thereby facilitating a more effective sleep apnea treatment and, consequently, an improved sleep experience.

If you’ve ever encountered the sensation of dry mouth upon removing your CPAP mask in the morning, please understand that you are not alone. An estimated 40% of CPAP therapy recipients report experiencing dry mouth,1 a condition that can give rise to a range of adverse effects such as headaches, dizziness, bad breath, coughing, and difficulties with speech and eating.

Outlined below are the principal catalysts of dry mouth:

Primary Cause: Medications and Underlying Conditions Before attributing dry mouth solely to your CPAP mask, it’s essential to methodically eliminate other potential factors. The Mayo Clinic highlights six alternative non-CPAP-related contributors that should be discussed with your medical professional:

  • Oral medications listing dry mouth as a side effect
  • Natural aging processes
  • Medications employed in cancer treatment
  • Neural impairment due to injuries or surgical procedures
  • Usage of tobacco or methamphetamine substances
  • Coinciding health conditions like Sjogren’s syndrome and HIV/AIDS, known to cause dry mouth
  • Instances of stroke and Alzheimer’s disease that can evoke perceived dryness, even in the presence of normally functioning salivary glands.2

Unheated Airflow If, following consultation with your healthcare provider, it is discerned that the dryness of your oral cavity originates from the air supplied by your CPAP machine, introducing additional moisture through a heated humidifier and/or heated tubing could offer relief. Both these components are standard in ResMed’s new Air Solutions CPAP machines. These instruments infuse moisture into the airflow, curbing desiccation. The degree of heat can be adjusted for optimal humidity; however, excessive moisture may lead to condensation in the air tube, a phenomenon known as “rainout” or “washout.”

Principal Contributor: Severe Mask Leakage Regardless of the presence of humidification features, pronounced mask leakage can provoke dry mouth, concurrently compromising the effectiveness of sleep apnea treatment. This predicament is a leading factor behind the discontinuation of therapy by 45% of former CPAP users.3 It is frequently encountered by individuals who:

  • Employ an ill-fitting mask; consulting your physician or mask provider for a refitting is crucial. Over-tightening the mask to prevent leakage is not advised, as the ensuing pressure could result in discomfort, facial markings, and pressure sores.
  • Utilize a bilevel machine; exploring the advantages of transitioning to a full face mask that covers both the nasal and oral areas is a prudent step.
  • Breathe predominantly through the mouth while using a nasal or nasal pillows mask; similar to bilevel machine users, contemplating a switch to a full face mask is recommended.

We have dedicated an entire article to address the multifaceted causes and potential resolutions for CPAP mask leakage. Please refer to our Common CPAP Complaint post for further insights on this matter.

Disclaimer: This blog post provides a general overview of medical conditions and potential treatments. It is not intended as medical advice. For personalized medical guidance, please consult your healthcare professional.

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