CPAP Chin Strap: Increases Effectiveness of CPAP Therapy

The CPAP chin strap is a device meant to be used along with CPAP machine to get relief from dry mouth and throat, a common complaint of many users of the therapy. In fact, the efficacy of the machine can be increased when the user wears the CPAP chin strap, whose primary function is to keep the mouth closed to prevent ‘mouth breathing’ and retain a closed pressure environment.

Not many sleepers who are using CPAP machine are aware that their mouths open during sleep and jaws drop, which in turn directly interferes with the efficacy of the therapy.  This is because the therapy is based on the principle of a closed and air-tight system to deliver continuous positive air pressure to the airway. Mouth breathing can minimize the quantum of air entering the airway when air entering through the nose escapes through the mouth.

The CPAP chin strap: basics 

Though there are several types, sizes and designs of chin straps available, the device essentially consists of a padded chin cup and a strap that goes around the head for firm placement. Some models feature adjustable straps for better and more accurate and comfortable fitting.

Who needs a CPAP chin strap? 

Here are some indications for the use of such a device:

  • If air leak is detected while using CPAP machine.
  • To eliminate ‘jaw drop’ during therapy, especially when using a full face CPAP mask. During sleep, the jaw muscles may relax and make the mouth open. At times the air pressure from the machine can enter the mouth and cause the mouth to open. This often snaps the mask air-tight seal and causes air leakage.
  • To minimize dry mouth. This is frequent with users of nasal mask whose mouths open during sleep.
  • Snoring continues despite using CPAP machine or a nasal mask.
  • If there is bloating which is a sign of swallowing air while breathing during sleep.
  • If there is a choking sensation during sleep, despite the presence of CPAP machine. This happens to most mouth breathers as air gushes out of the mouth causing a choking feeling.
  • |When bed partner notices lips quivering during sleep. This is a sign of air coming out the mouth because of open mouth and jaws dropping.
  • The water level in the humidifier tank recedes significantly during sleep. This is a prominent symptom of mouth breathing.
  • If there is no significant improvement of daytime symptoms, one should check whether it is due to mouth breathing.

What causes mouth breathing for CPAP users? 

While mouth breathing is common when the nasal passage is blocked due to cold, allergies, deviated septum, etc, it happens to CPAP users when the air pressure is too low. When air pressure is inadequate it fails to prevent throat airway collapse. This causes the air passage to face obstruction when air escapes through the mouth.

At times mouth breathing can also be caused when the air pressure of the CPAP device is too high. When the pressure is high, the mouth may open unconsciously to release some pressure.

What are the side effects of the CPAP chin strap? 

Tooth ache, jaw pain, discomfort for users who have double chin, feeling hot and sweaty on the face, feeling of claustrophobia are some of the common side effects reported.

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