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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.