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Types of Sleep Apnea

Posted by Benjamin Hulse Oct 20, 2023

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Sleep apnea is a severe sleep disorder characterized by interruptions in breathing during sleep. These pauses in breathing, called apneas, can occur multiple times throughout the night and may last seconds to minutes. The most common type, obstructive sleep apnea, happens when the muscles in the throat fail to keep the airway open, causing the person to snore loudly and briefly wake up gasping for air. Central sleep apnea, less common, occurs when the brain fails to send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing. Untreated sleep apnea can lead to severe health issues such as daytime drowsiness, high blood pressure, heart problems, and impaired cognitive function. At Floss Family Dentistry, treatment options range from lifestyle changes and CPAP machines to surgery, aiming to ensure uninterrupted breathing during sleep and improve overall quality of life. 

Causes of Sleep Apnea 

  • Excess weight or obesity leads to fat deposits around the throat. 
  • Enlarged tonsils or adenoids, especially in children. 
  • Narrow airway due to genetics or facial structure. 
  • Positional factors like sleeping on the back cause the tongue and palate to collapse to the back of the throat. 
  • Excessive alcohol consumption, sedative use, and smoking relax throat muscles. 

Treatment for Sleep Apnea 

Lifestyle Modifications

For mild cases of sleep apnea, lifestyle changes can be effective. These changes often include weight loss, as excess weight can contribute to airway obstruction. Avoiding alcohol, sedatives, and muscle relaxants before bedtime can help prevent the relaxation of throat muscles, reducing the likelihood of obstruction. Elevating the head of the bed or using positional therapy, such as sleeping on your side, can also aid in maintaining open airways during sleep.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Therapy 

CPAP is a standard treatment for moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea in Lehi, UT. It involves a machine that delivers continuous air through a mask, which helps keep the airway open. This steady airflow prevents airway collapse and allows for uninterrupted breathing during sleep. CPAP therapy can significantly reduce apnea episodes and improve the quality of sleep. 

Oral Appliances 

Dental devices, such as mandibular advancement devices, are another option for treating sleep apnea, primarily for mild to moderate cases. These devices reposition the lower jaw and tongue to help maintain an open airway. They are custom-made by our dentists in Lehi, UT, to fit comfortably and effectively. 


Surgical interventions may be considered in more severe cases of sleep apnea or when other treatments are ineffective. Procedures may involve removing excess tissue from the throat, such as the tonsils or adenoids, or repositioning the upper and lower jaws. Surgical options are reserved for cases where anatomy or structural issues contribute to airway obstruction. 

If you suspect you might have sleep apnea or are experiencing symptoms such as loud snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, or morning headaches, visit Floss Family Dentistry at 2183 W Main St Suite 301A, Lehi, UT 84043 or call (801) 610-7200. Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment can significantly improve your quality of life and overall health and reduce the risk of associated complications. 

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2183 W Main St Suite 301A,
Lehi, UT 84043

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