CPAP Machine and Dry Mouth

What does CPAP stand for?

CPAP Continuous Positive Airway Pressure 

What is it used for?

It is used in individuals who have breathing problems such as sleep apnea. 

What is sleep apnea?

It is a sleeping disorder which is characterized by pauses in breathing or periods of shallow breathing followed by loud snoring during sleep. (1)  It can be caused by obstructive factors such as being overweight, allergies, small airway, large tonsils etc. (2) or central factors which are basically a lack of effort to breathe.

How does it work?

CPAP machines provide a constant flow of air pressure into a mask (nasal or naso-oral) a patient wares in order to stop the airways from collapsing or becoming blocked. (5)


What are the different types?

  • CPAP – Continuous Positive Airway Pressure through which the patient has to inhale and exhale under the same pressure while using the machine. While inhaling may be made easier this way, that same air pressure may make exhaling more difficult.


  • BiLevel CPAP– The machine has two pressure settings, one for inhalation (higher pressure) and one for exhalation (lower pressure).


  • AutoCPAP – based on physician’s prescription the machine is programmed to deliver pressure according to patient’s needs such as position in which the patient sleeps and or medical conditions such as nasal congestion, medication etc.


How do CPAP machines cause Dry Mouth?

The air delivered under pressure can have a drying effect on the oral cavity, especially if a patient sleeps with their mouth open and or if the mask leaks.    

How to Help Dry Mouth Caused by CPAP machine use? Speak to your doctor about these:

First, with your doctor, consider what medications/medical conditions/habits could be causing your dry mouth. Read here about the possible Causes of Dry Mouth


Some CPAP machines can have the function of heated humidifiers and or heated tubing which deliver moisture to the air delivered.


If you are wearing a nasal mask speak to your doctor about switching to a full-face mouth that covers both the nose and the mouth.


If you sleep with your mouth open due to nasal congestion due to allergies, sinus infections etc. or if you have a deviated septum, speak to you doctor about treating/managing these conditions.


Some patients report that even if not fully comfortable, chin straps recommended by their doctors have helped with keeping the mouth closed to prevent mouth breathing. Though this method has increased the rate of snoring.


There are also other oral appliances:Mandibular advancement splints which are custom made mouthpieces that shift the mouth forward and slightly open the jaw (4)

Weight loss 

Positional therapy: Some patients benefit from sleeping at a 30 degree inclination which helps prevent the gravitational collapse of the airway. (3)

Surgical approach to tighten and widen the airway.


It is important to be under the care of a physician who can monitor your medical condition and treatment. See a dentist to monitor your oral health as dry mouth can cause an increased rate of cavities and gum disease.

Read more: 7 Best Dry Mouth Remedies 

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Best Wishes, 

Dr. Anna Glinianska




1) NHLBI: Health Information for the Public. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. July 10, 2012.

2) "Who Is at Risk for Sleep Apnea?". NHLBI. July 10, 2012.  From the original on 26 August 2016. Retrieved 18 August 2016

3) Neill AM, Angus SM, Sajkov D, McEvoy RD (January 1997). "Effects of sleep posture on upper airway stability in patients with obstructive sleep apnea". American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine155(1): 199–204.

4) Machado MA, Juliano L, Taga M, de Carvalho LB, do Prado LB, do Prado GF (December 2007). "Titratable mandibular repositioner appliances for obstructive sleep apnea syndrome: are they an option?". Sleep & Breathing = Schlaf & Atmung11(4): 225–31

5) "How Is Sleep Apnea Treated?". NHLBI. July 10, 2012 Fom the original on 27 August 2016. Retrieved 18 August 2016.


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