Common Types of CPAP Masks in 2022

Compliance is the key to effective therapy for sleep apnea, and the mask you choose plays a big role. While there are several types of CPAP masks, all with different styles and fits, each is designed to create a good seal around your mouth, nose, or both to deliver consistent therapy throughout the night. In this guide, we'll walk through each of the most common CPAP mask options to help you differentiate between them and determine which might be best for your needs. Here are the different CPAP masks we'll cover:

  1. CPAP Nasal Masks
  2. Nasal Pillow CPAP Masks
  3. CPAP Full Face Masks
  4. Hybrid CPAP Masks
  5. Oral CPAP Masks
  6. Total Face CPAP Masks

CPAP Mask Options

1. CPAP Nasal Masks

The most common of the five CPAP mask styles, especially for first-time users, CPAP nasal masks cover your nose, usually with a triangular-shaped cushion made of foam or silicone. To create a secure fit and a strong seal for airflow, most styles feature a bracket that wraps either around your forehead or the top of your head, with tubing that goes up and over your head or down in front of your face. This creates a seal below, along the sides, and on the bridge of your nose.

Pros:

  • Can be easier to fit and put on than other mask styles.
  • Less bulky than a full face mask.
  • Have more stability due to head or forehead supports.

Cons:

  • Not effective if you breathe through your mouth due to pressure leakage.
  • Not ideal if you have allergies or nasal congestion.
  • Forehead supports on some models can obstruct vision.
  • Can cause irritation on the bridge of your nose.

2. Nasal Pillow CPAP Masks

The smallest and least obtrusive of all sleep apnea mask types, nasal pillow CPAP masks have two cushions that rest directly in or around your nostrils to create a seal and deliver air into your nose. Since this can be a sensitive area, the model you choose will likely come down to comfort. Most styles are secured by straps running across the side of your head, the top, or both, leaving the forehead unobstructed.

Pros:

  • Wider range of vision (good for reading, watching TV, or using your phone in bed).
  • Lighter than other CPAP mask options.
  • Provides a better seal if you have facial hair.
  • Good option for active sleepers.
  • Generally less expensive than other mask styles.

Cons:

  • Not effective if you breathe through your mouth due to pressure leakage.
  • Not ideal if you have allergies or nasal congestion.
  • Can be harder to find a good fit, so you may need to try several models.

In addition, a study published by the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that nasal CPAP masks are an effective option even for those who require high pressures as part of their therapy. This combination of size, weight, price, and capability make nasal pillow masks among the most popular.

3. CPAP Full Face Masks

A more traditional mask style, CPAP full face masks cover both your nose and mouth, typically resting across your nose, cheeks, and chin. They're secured with straps around your jaw and either your cheeks or forehead to create a good seal for airflow.

Pros:

  • Best option if you breathe through your mouth. Prevents pressure leakage.
  • Effective if you have allergies or nasal congestion issues.
  • Good choice if you sleep on your back.

Cons:

  • Harder to achieve an effective seal due to a larger surface area.
  • Not ideal if you have facial hair due to sealing issues.
  • Heavier and more likely to obstruct vision.
  • Generally more expensive.
  • Higher likelihood of experiencing claustrophobia during use.

4. Hybrid CPAP Masks

A combination of a full face mask and nasal pillow mask, hybrid CPAP masks cover your mouth and create a seal around your nose with the same cushion design featured in nasal pillow masks. The largest benefit of this change is that it doesn't require any supports across your forehead, offering a less obstructed line of sight, greater flexibility, and a lighter feel. Great for back sleepers, hybrid CPAP masks are helpful if you alternate between breathing through your mouth and nose during the night.

5. Oral CPAP Masks

Bypassing your nose and covering only your mouth, oral CPAP masks are designed specifically for mouth breathers and anyone who has ongoing allergies or nasal congestion. Nose plugs are typically used to prevent pressure leaks from your nostrils, and a heated humidifier should be used to prevent dry mouth. Like hybrid masks, the smaller design allows more visual freedom for watching TV, reading, and using your phone before bed.

6. CPAP Total Face Masks

If you struggle with pressure leakage or discomfort when using other sleep apnea mask options, a CPAP total face mask might be the right solution. Covering the entire face, including the eyes, these masks are secured with straps along your jaw and the side of your head. Pressure leakage, especially around the eyes, is common with other types of masks. Full face masks eliminate this issue by covering areas where air can escape while also providing a more even distribution of contact points on the face to reduce discomfort.

Which Type of CPAP Mask Should You Choose?

While there are several different CPAP mask styles to choose from, the right one for you depends on a variety of factors, including your sleeping position, how you breathe at night, and more. We recommend working with your doctor to identify a mask that fits comfortably and provides a strong seal to encourage therapy compliance and effectiveness. If you have any questions about the masks discussed above or any of our products, our customer service team will be happy to assist you.

Sources

  • National Library of Medicine. "Assessment of the Performance of Nasal Pillows at High CPAP Pressures" https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ 29 March 2022.
  • National Library of Medicine. "Claustrophobic Tendencies and Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Therapy Non-adherence in Adults with Obstructive Sleep Apnea" https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ 29 March 2022.