Breathing through the nose instead of the mouth is key for sleep apnea patients, but it’s also important for everyday health. Our noses are specially designed to filter impurities through nose hairs, and warm and moisten incoming air with the mucous membrane. The mucous membrane also makes mucus, which captures particles and germs. The mouth isn’t equipped to protect the lungs by filtering or warming air, so excessive mouth breathing can lead to ear and sinus infections, snoring, headaches, and other health issues.
Mouth breathing can also be a sign of sleep apnea since patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) tend to sleep with their mouths open. If you regularly wake up with dry mouth, approach your doctor to find out why you’re sleeping with your mouth open.
Some sleep apnea patients have trouble keeping their mouth closed even with CPAP therapy, but a chin strap can remedy that problem. A variety of chin straps of differing materials and sizes are available on the market so patients can select a strap that’s effective and comfortable.
For mouth breathers with sleep apnea, a full-face mask won’t keep your mouth closed but it should be used to insure CPAP therapy is effective. If you’re a mouth breather but prefer to use a nasal mask, you can use the chin strap to keep your mouth closed. Your sleep specialist can help you determine the right CPAP mask to use, and whether or not you should use a chin strap as well.