Full Face Vs. Nasal CPAP Mask: Understanding The Differences

The top two CPAP masks are the nasal pillow mask and the full-face mask. Both these masks offer great treatment for patients who suffer from sleep apnea, but there are some key differences between the two that patients need to understand when choosing the one that’s right for them. Here are the key differences in features and operation to help you decide which is your best fit!

Full Face Mask

A full-face mask covers your entire face, including your nose and mouth. These masks are beneficial for people who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). They offer a more secure fit than a nasal mask by covering a larger surface area of your face and providing a better seal between your mouth and nose.


Better Sleep Quality and Pressure Relief

Full face masks offer more versatility than nasal masks because they cover both your mouth and nose, which provides better pressure relief. Many patients report that full face masks create a greater seal around their nose and mouth, which helps to prevent air leakage through leaky nostrils or lips. Patients also say they sleep more comfortably with a full-face mask because it creates a better overall seal around their face.

Suitable Treatment for Mouth Breathers

If you’re a mouth breather, a full face mask is the best fit for you. A full-face mask has a greater chance of creating an effective seal and helping to prevent air leakage through your nose while you sleep. It also works well for patients who experience nasal congestion in the form of colds or allergies.

Greater Durability and Less Maintenance

Full face masks tend to last longer because they are less prone to wear and tear from daily use. Because it’s easier to create an effective seal with a full face mask, patients tend to report fewer instances of leaks or discomfort over time with their choice of facial device.

Suitable for your High-Pressure CPAP Requirements

Do you need higher pressure to curb your sleep apnea? The full-face mask is your best fit as both the mouth and nose receive pressurized air.

Greater Versatility in Facial Hair Styles

The full-face mask’s design is suited for a variety of facial hair styles.


They Leak Air

Full face masks are large in size, encouraging air leaking. This is most common in the areas around the eyes. As a result, full-face masks are not appropriate for patients who have sensitive skin or may experience irritation from their mask leaking. For example, if you’re using a full-face mask and experience irritation under your eyes while sleeping, you should try switching to a Nasal Pillows CPAP mask instead.

Limited Jaw Movement

For some patients with limited jaw movement or poor dental health (which can be exacerbated by grinding), full-face masks can also cause soreness of the mouth and/or throat area. Full-face masks also tend to cause more chin strap marks than other styles of masks do as well.

They are more suited for back sleepers

These masks’ bulky design hinders mobility during sleep. Also, constant movements can alter the mask’s position and lead to air leaking which isn’t good for you.

Nasal CPAP Masks

As their name suggests, nasal CPAP masks don’t cover a user’s mouth at all. Instead, they force air through a filter and into a person’s nostrils. If you find full-face masks uncomfortable, nasal masks may be your best bet because there are few areas for them to rub against your face or leak air from. But some people experience less comfort with nasal CPAP mask than others. Nasal CPAP masks are designed with mechanisms to deliver room air at heightened pressures to your nasal passages. Design-wise, they are triangle-shaped, covering your nose from your upper lip to your nose’s bridge.


Suitable for your High-Pressure CPAP Requirements

If you have severe sleep apnea and need higher pressure air, the Nasal CPAP mask is your best bet. Nasal masks are designed to sit comfortably on your nose and feature an air chamber that rests over your mouth. They’re designed to fit snugly against your face, so there’s little chance of leakage, and because they don’t cover your entire face, they don’t interfere with REM sleep or make it difficult for you to breathe normally during rest.

Convenient for all Sleeping Positions

Nasal CPAP masks are great for stomach and side sleepers. If you toss and turn or fidget while sleeping, this device is your best fit. This is because regular movement cannot knock the mask off position and airflow is consistent regardless of your sleeping position.

Easy to Clean

A simple guide upon purchase will inform you how to clean your nasal CPAP mask in easy DIY steps.


Not Convenient for Mouth Breathers

If you’re a mouth breather, nasal CPAP masks aren’t ideal. A nasal CPAP mask won’t work well for you if you experience regular nosebleeds, regular sinus congestion, or have a deviated septum.

How to Determine What Works Best for You

It all comes down to personal preference and comfort levels, but one thing that you can do is figure out which way is most natural for you to breathe while sleeping on your back. You can do that by using a non-invasive sleep study called an overnight oximetry test, where they will monitor your breathing patterns throughout the night and guide you to determine which mask will be best for you. If it turns out that nasal airflow is natural for you, then a nasal mask would be a good option for you; otherwise, try something with full face coverage like an oral or nasal pillow type of mask. It’s important to know that not all CPAP masks work for everyone, and each individual has different preferences for their treatment. Because of that, make sure you have options when you start shopping around for a mask, so that you can find one that fits your unique needs and face shape! Knowing what kinds of masks are available to choose from is an essential part of buying a mask—particularly if you want one that will be comfortable over long periods of time.


If you have sleep apnea, it’s very important to understand what kind of mask is right for you and learn how to adjust it properly. This can mean all the difference between a restful night of sleep and a night spent tossing and turning because you’re uncomfortable or frustrated by your mask. Full face masks are great for some people; nasal masks work just as well for others. You just need to know what will work best for you. Don’t let sleep apnea interfere with your sleeping patterns. Get your CPAP mask today!