Breathing is an involuntary process, so most of us probably never think about how we breathe. The average person uses their nose to breathe in an out. In turn, the nasal passages moisten and warm up the air being inhaled.
However, there are people who breathe through their mouth instead of their nose. If you have sleep apnea, then you might be breathing mainly through your mouth while you sleep. Chronic mouth breathing can be a serious health concern; so serious, in fact, that CPAP masks for mouth breathers have been invented.
Sleep Apnea and Mouth Breathing
Millions of Americans became mouth breathers when they started having sleep apnea. Basically, sleep apnea makes a person stop breathing while asleep. Therefore, oxygen levels go down, and the brain scrambles to make up for it. This results in loud snores, and often, sudden gasping or choking to inhale as much air as possible quickly. Since apnea episodes can happen as often as hundreds of times a night, sleep apnea sufferers develop their mouth breathing habit to put up with the need for oxygen.
The Dangers of Mouth Breathing
It is easy to dismiss mouth breathing as a problem that has a simple solution— notice when you’re breathing through your mouth, then breathe through the nose instead. Sleep apnea patients don’t have this choice because the mouth breathing happens while they are unconscious and sleeping. Some issues related to mouth breathing are:
- snoring and gasping for air during sleep;
- bad breath and dry mouth;
- brain fog;
- throat problems;
- chronic fatigue; and
- dental problems, such as jaw pain and teeth grinding, etc.
In addition, mouth breathers with sleep apnea simply don’t get proper sleep night after night. The lack of sleep itself leads to many physical, cognitive, and behavioral problems that can significantly affect the quality of life.
Mouth Breathing and Full-face Masks
Mouth breathing is so prevalent in sleep apnea patients that a lot of doctors start newly-diagnosed individuals on CPAP therapy combined with a full-face mask. Some report great success relearning how to breathe through the nose within a few months. For some, however, this type may not be the best CPAP mask for mouth breather.
A full-face mask has a larger cushion and mask frame. This increases the probability of air leaks. Skin irritation and limited movement during sleep are also frequent complaints. If you’ve tried full-face masks and found that they’re not for you, there are other options in the market you can try.
Exploring Other Options
Instead of full-face masks, you may try a nasal pillow with a chin strap or a nasal mask. Instead of covering your mouth and nose while you sleep, nasal masks only cover your nose. Nasal pillows, on the other hand, have tubes that are fitted to your nostrils.
If you still find yourself tossing and turning with these mask types, then a no-mask design might be the one for you. Innovative models, such as the CPAP Pro II, make use of a Boil n’ Bite mechanism that you gently attach to your upper and lower teeth. These hold your mouth closed, which means that you breathe through your nose as you sleep. An added advantage is that it doesn’t have any cumbersome straps or headgear, giving you greater freedom and comfort.
Mouth breathing is a real issue, but you don’t have to put up with it. In fact, devices, such as the CPAP Pro II make it incredibly manageable. If you’d like more information on our no-mask CPAP design, call our CPAP Pro specialists to learn more.