Can a CPAP machine cause teeth problems?

Can a CPAP machine cause teeth problems?

Reading time: 3 minutes

What’s inside?

  • What damage can CPAP do to my teeth?
  • What damage can CPAP do to my gums?
  • How can I protect my teeth from CPAP?


CPAP is the saviour for those of us living with sleep apnea, right?

Well, it certainly saves and extends our lives. There’s enough scientific evidence for that one. But, when it comes to our dental health it isn’t all good news.

This is especially true if you have existing dental issues, such as crowded teeth.

Here’s a quick summary of some of the things to look out for…


What damage can CPAP do to my teeth?

Shifting Teeth:

Given we strap a wind tunnel to our face every time we sleep, it shouldn’t be surprising CPAP therapy can cause movement of teeth. The pressure from the mask can exert force on the teeth, potentially leading to their gradual shift over time.

This is particularly true if the mask is not fitted properly or if the patient is prone to grinding their teeth at night.

It isn’t only full-face masks causing this issue either, the study linked here covers a patient using nasal pillows who still experienced tooth movement off the back of CPAP therapy.

Grinding Teeth (Sciency bit: Bruxism)

Sleep apnea often co-exists with teeth grinding. Patients with sleep apnea may grind their teeth more intensely, leading to accelerated tooth wear, increased tooth sensitivity, and higher risks of tooth fractures.

Diagram showing before and after images of teeth grinding, also known as bruxism.

Mark Burhenne recently wrote an article on how sleep apnea and teeth grinding can be linked. If you’re a teeth grinder, it could be worth checking out.


What damage can CPAP do to my gums?

Gum Disease (Another sciency bit: Periodontitis):

Gum disease happens a lot in CPAP users. Again, the wind tunnel effect can cause your mouth to dry out (SB: Xerostomia), which removes the important saliva that normally controls the amount of bacteria growing in your mouth by neutralising the acids bacteria produce.

As a result, this dry mouth can increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.

If this sounds like you, try speaking with your sleep apnea medical advisor on whether using a CPAP humidifier could help.

If you already use a humidifier and still experience dry mouth, you could try turning the humidifier up a notch. Be aware though, this could have a side effect on causing rainout, which is covered in this separate blog post.


How can I protect my teeth from CPAP?

Get the right mask fit:

Ensure your CPAP mask is properly fitted to minimise the pressure on your teeth and reduce the risk of tooth movement.

Retainers and oral appliances:

Orthodontists, and some dentists, can make you a retainer or oral appliance to protect your teeth. Some oral appliances can also help those with very mild sleep apnea come-off CPAP altogether.

Get a check-up from the neck-up:

Don’t ignore the normal dental routines. Regular visits to your dentist are seriously important for anyone using CPAP therapy. They will be able to keep an eye on any changes to your teeth and gums between visits and advise on remedies, where needed.

Hydration and Oral Hygiene:

This one is hugely overlooked by the majority of CPAP users. Maintaining good oral hygiene and staying hydrated can mitigate the risks of dry mouth. Using mouthwashes designed to increase the production of saliva can also help.


So, yes CPAP probably keeps us alive much longer than we would likely survive without it but there are downsides.

Hopefully the info here will help you think about how your own oral health could be impacted by CPAP therapy and maybe help you ask the right questions of your dentist and sleep practitioner.

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