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Why You Might Consider Using a Chin Strap with Your CPAP Machine

A brief overview of why you should—or shouldn’t—consider using a chin strap as part of your PAP therapy setup

Chin straps are a popular CPAP accessory thanks to their affordable pricing and easy use. 

But do they work? And, perhaps more importantly, do you need to consider adding one to your equipment?

In this guide, we’ll look at common reasons to consider using a chip strap with your CPAP machine and times when you shouldn’t use one.

We’ll also look at the essentials of how these simple accessories work and any considerations you should make when choosing one should you feel it might benefit you.

When NOT to Use a Chin Strap

Before we dive into the benefits and ways to use a chin strap, we want to cover some common scenarios when we’ve seen chin straps used that are not recommended.

First, you should never use chin straps without a CPAP mask

They are not designed for standalone use as a snoring prevention device or training device to prevent mouth breathing. 

While they might work in the short term, they would only be working to cover up any underlying conditions which lead to snoring or mouth breathing in the first place.

More importantly, if you have a deviated septum, nasal congestion, or other medical issues obstructing a natural nasal breathing pattern, wearing a chin strap can increase the risk of harm or cause further discomfort.

If you (or someone you live with) are dealing with the effects of snoring or mouth breathing, consulting with a medical professional is the best way to uncover the root causes of these issues and develop an effective, safe plan to address them.

When Should You Use a Chin Strap Then?

If you use a nasal CPAP mask or nasal pillow CPAP mask, any opening of your mouth can result in leakage and pressure loss.

Even if you’re not actively breathing through your mouth, your jaw might relax as you sleep, allowing your mouth to open slightly.

So there might not be obvious visual indicators that you need a chin strap.

However, for many, mouth breathing or an open mouth while using their CPAP machine will lead to noticeable mouth dryness, a sore throat, and increased apnea episodes

This can even lead to oral health concerns.

If you notice any of these symptoms—or your partner notices you breathing from your mouth—it might be time to consider adding a chin strap to your nightly routine!

How Do CPAP Chin Straps Work?

The specifics of fit and function might vary slightly depending on the model you choose. However, most work similarly.

Using a stretchy band, they use your head to create pressure against your chin—providing enough resistance to stop a relaxed jaw from opening, but not so much that you can’t open your mouth if you tried.

Some are a standard single band with a chin cup, such as ResMed’s Sullivan Chin Strap

Others, such as the Morpheus Deluxe Chinstrap, are premium options, using multiple straps or a triangle design to provide a firmer hold and snug fit.

Some models even attach to your existing CPAP headgear!

Regardless of the design, however, their goal will be the same.

In most cases, they’ll close using hook and latch tape or something similar to avoid resting cold metal or hard contact points against your face or head as you sleep. 

The bands will also feature a variety of materials—most stretchy—to provide a firm yet comfortable fit and easy upkeep should they become soiled over multiple uses.

Considerations When Choosing a CPAP Chin Strap

While choosing a chin strap might not be as complex as selecting the best CPAP mask type or the perfect CPAP machine, there are still some things to keep in mind to avoid discomfort or unexpected complications.

  1. Consider materials: As mentioned above, chin straps are available in a range of materials.

    You might find some materials better than others if you have sensitive skin or texture sensitivities.

    Routine maintenance should also be considered—though most makers use materials that are easy to keep clean and won’t absorb odors.

    Finally, consider your climate. If you live somewhere hot or are prone to night sweats, pick a chin strap made from breathable materials or opt for a minimalist design to reduce heat buildup and skin irritation.
  2. Consider your CPAP mask and headgear: While most designs will do a respectable job at keeping tension on your jaw and your mouth closed, you’ll want to ensure that the chin strap you choose fits well underneath the headgear of your mask and remains clear of your CPAP mask cushion.
  3. Consider the required support: Chin straps with different band designs, widths, or thicknesses will provide a different experience.

    In most cases, you want to find a strap that provides enough support to keep your mouth closed but not so much that it feels constricting or might hold your mouth forcefully shut.

    Models with dedicated chin cups can also provide more localized support.

    In contrast, wrap-like models with multiple bands help to spread that support out over a wider area for a snug fit with fewer individual pressure points.
  4. Consider the cost: In most cases, insurance will not cover the cost of chin straps as they are considered an accessory.

    As such, while most models are quite affordable, consider your budget and the fact that you will most likely pay for your chin strap out of pocket before making any final purchase decisions.

When Should You Replace Your CPAP Chin Strap?

This answer is slightly subjective. If you feel like your chin strap is no longer as supportive as you need for optimal sleep, the materials feel worn out, or your chin strap is soiled and won’t come clean with washing, it might be time to consider replacing it.

Otherwise, most manufacturers recommend replacing your CPAP chin strap approximately every six months to ensure the best performance and avoid any hygiene concerns. If you use a chin strap, adding its care and replacement to your typical CPAP equipment maintenance routines will ensure you’re always getting the most from your therapy.

Key Takeaways

  • You should not use chin straps on their own to address snoring or mouth breathing while sleeping. They should only be used in conjunction with your prescribed PAP therapy regimen.
  • You should not use chin straps if you have a deviated septum, nasal congestion, or any other situation which obstructs smooth, regular nasal breathing patterns without the consultation or supervision of a medical professional.
  • If you are using a nasal CPAP mask or nasal pillow CPAP mask and find that your mouth comes open—either due to your jaw relaxing as you sleep or to mouth breathing—a chin strap can help maintain optimal pressure levels and provide improved results from your PAP therapy.
  • Most CPAP chin straps use one or more stretchy bands—sometimes with a chin cup—to gently hold your mouth closed as you sleep.
  • When choosing a chinstrap model, be sure to consider how easy the chinstrap will be to clean as well as any skin or texture sensitivities you might have related to the materials in use.
  • Since you wear your CPAP chin strap underneath your CPAP headgear and cushion, you’ll want to ensure that the two designs will work well together and not cause discomfort during use.
  • You’ll also want to match the design and materials to the support needed. In most cases, a model with just enough support will be far more comfortable than an overly supportive option. Meanwhile, too little support could significantly diminish the benefits of your chin strap.
  • Insurance providers do not typically cover chin straps. Be sure to budget and choose your options with out-of-pocket costs in mind.
  • You should consider replacing your CPAP chin strap every six months or whenever the chin strap becomes weaker, is overly soiled, or the materials worn thin.

CPAP Supply is Canada’s leading online CPAP supply store in customer satisfaction. If you think you might need a CPAP chin strap, we’d love to help you find the best model for your needs. Call us today to discuss your options and start getting the most out of your PAP therapy!

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