Central vs. Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a potentially dangerous sleeping disorder. When you sleep, your body doesn’t get enough oxygen. Unfortunately, this can cause several serious side effects. In fact, sleep apnea is associated with many long-term health issues.

If you suspect that you have sleep apnea, you should talk to a doctor as soon as possible. This is because some of the side effects can be detrimental to your health over time. Without treatment, you can experience high blood pressure, a higher possibility of stroke, or even death. 

There are several types of sleep apnea, but the most common are central and obstructive sleep apnea. Knowing which type of sleep apnea you have can be important when seeking treatment. Both types of sleep apnea carry snoring as a potential symptom. However, snoring is not only associated with sleep apnea. It is best to get a sleep study to be certain. 

woman holds her ears while man next to her snores in sleep sleep apnea dentist in Nixa Missouri

Central Sleep Apnea

Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain doesn’t send the right signals to your muscles. This means that your brain doesn’t “tell” the muscles that control your breathing to move. As a result, during the night, you can simply stop breathing. The spells of not breathing can occur multiple times throughout the night. 

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of sleep apnea. When you sleep, your body relaxes. With obstructive sleep apnea, the muscles in your throat and the back of your mouth relax too much. Your tongue and soft palate obstruct the flow of oxygen. 

Unfortunately, this creates a blockage in your airway. While you sleep, you are unable to get enough oxygen, so your body reacts to protect itself. As a result, you may gasp for breath or even awaken. This is because your body needs oxygen to survive. 


A symptom that is common in both forms of sleep apnea is snoring. With obstructive sleep apnea, snoring will be unusually loud because soft tissues block the airway. You may also snore with central sleep apnea. Typically, sleep apnea also carries other symptoms that will help with your diagnosis. 

Along with snoring, you may gasp for air in your sleep—or wake several times during the night. You may also wake with a dry mouth.

If you aren’t getting enough rest, it is likely that you will have trouble staying awake or focusing throughout the day. Also, you may be more susceptible to mood swings. 

Treatment Options

One of the main forms of treatment for sleep apnea is a CPAP machine. This device provides you with a steady flow of oxygen. Not only does this keep your airway open, but it also ensures your blood oxygen levels are safe. 

If you have mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea, you may be a candidate for oral appliance therapy. This is a device that is similar to a mouthguard. Your dentist can create a customized device for your mouth. While you sleep, the appliance will align your jaw and keep your airway open. 


413 N. McCroskey St.
Nixa, MO 65714



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