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Understanding the Different Types of Sleep Apnea

Understanding the Different Types of Sleep Apnea

A good night’s sleep is vital to your health. There are several stages of sleep, all of which play a role in revitalizing your body for the coming day. While everyone has their own variations of the sleep cycle, such as their optimal bedtimes and hours of sleep, we all need to progress through each sleep stage to recharge. 

Sleep apnea is the enemy of a restful sleep cycle. Characterized by breathing stoppages, sleep apnea requires your brain to slip out of its current sleep stage to wake you enough to start breathing again. It can happen dozens of times a night, and you may never wake up enough to know it’s happening. 

You might not think of your dentist when it comes to treating sleep apnea, but our team at Metairie Village Dentistry works with your doctor or sleep clinic when they recommend an oral appliance for sleep apnea treatment or laser tightening with the Fotona® NightLase® system.  

Sleep apnea symptoms

If you’ve gained a reputation as a loud snorer, it may be a sign of sleep apnea. Not all snorers have sleep apnea, and you don’t need to snore to have sleep apnea. Almost 7% of Americans have some form of sleep apnea. 

Besides snoring, common signs of sleep apnea include: 

Your partner may notice your breathing stops while you’re asleep, or you may wake up gasping and out of breath.

Understanding the different types of sleep apnea

There are two primary types of sleep apnea, plus a third type that combines those two. 

Obstructive sleep apnea

The most common type of the condition is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA occurs when tissues in your throat relax as you fall asleep. 

The soft tissue narrows the space through which air moves in and out of your lungs. The narrowing causes high pressure that vibrates soft tissue to create characteristic snoring sounds. Air resistance becomes so great that it can stop you from breathing. 

Central sleep apnea

Sometimes, there’s no physical reason for sleep apnea. Instead of an airflow problem, central sleep apnea is a nervous system issue. The brain’s autonomic signals for breathing become scrambled. Central sleep apnea is less common than OSA. 

Complex sleep apnea

This condition combines OSA and central sleep apnea. Complex sleep apnea is the least common type. 

How your dentist can help

Our team at Metairie Village Dentistry helps people with OSA in two ways. Mild and moderate cases of OSA may benefit from a sleep guard mouthpiece. Resembling an athletic mouth guard, this custom appliance holds your bottom jaw forward overnight, widening your breathing airways. 

The Fotona NightLase system warms tissue inside your mouth to stimulate new collagen growth — a protein that supports and tightens the tissue in the back of your throat, reducing tissue collapse. 

Contact Metairie Village Dentistry by phone or online to learn more about how we can help with your sleep apnea treatments. Book your appointment today. 


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