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one fix for mouth dryness

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BrainsNeedSleep +0 points · over 6 years ago Original Poster Sleep Commentator

Hey, y'all. I see periodically people asking about how to deal with mouth dryness and CPAP and thought I'd offer my experience.
Quick background: I have complex apnea, and use a CPAP at 9cmH2O with a full-face mask, and have claustrophobia. No way a chin strap for me, and I use the exhalation-relief setting on my PAP because if I don't, the constant pressure against my exhalation makes me feel I can't breathe. Also, I'm supposed to sleep on my side to reduce obstructions. When I'm asleep sometimes even best efforts fail and I roll onto my back (even with tennis balls in the way) and that seems to be when my mouth sags open and I mouth-breathe. Those mornings I wake up with the Sahara in my mouth and that's not good for oral health at all.

SUGGESTION: if you haven't already been to an ENT doc and don't know this:

  1. Look in the mirror, and with your mouth closed, take a good sharp fast breath IN. Do your nostrils tend to collapse and partially close off the air?
  2. Look in the mirror and look up your nose. Does it look like you might have some obstructions in there? Turbinates can be swollen; there can be scar tissue from an old injury; allergies can swell the tissues in there.

If so, then your AIRWAY is compromised right at the start. Most docs I've been to look from the mouth down, and never checked my nose! Finally went to an ENT and have had 2 surgeries, neither worked well, and so I'm back to needing some sort of object or device to prop those flaccid nostrils open. The external strips work for some, the internal devices work for others.

I was offered a free sample of a Mute device back in June and was skeptical that anything inside my nose could help (wouldn't it be taking up valuable open real estate??) but I was pretty amazed at the difference it actually made. (The external strips hurt my skin.) Since June I have used one of those Mutes every single night, and I've had MAYBE two, three episodes of mouth breathing since then. My leak rate has also gone down, I think because my mouth's not fighting/pushing against the mask. The lower leak rate is important in my EERS treatment, and I have found that my AHI is now more consistently under 1.0, where it should be, IMO.

Full disclosure: I was SO very grateful for the help from the device that I emailed the rep I had met in June who had given me the sample (and to whom I had expressed much skepticism!), and wrote a paragraph about my experimenting and experience. She sent me a couple of boxes of them, gratis. Sometimes things do help, and I am happy to have something positive to say, along with my usual rants about how an AHI of 5 (aka 35-40 interruptions a night) is too high of a standard.

So at least for me, the mouth-breathing was related to a faulty nasal airway, and the fix was relatively easy, and it didn't make me claustrophobic, AND it helped improve my AHI as well. May you be as fortunate in your hunt for what will work best for you!

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