Sleep Apnea vs. Snoring

man snoring with his mouth open

Is Your Snoring an Indicator of Sleep Apnea?

Sleep is essential for our overall well-being, and disturbances during sleep can have a significant impact on our health and quality of life. Two common sleep-related issues that often get confused are sleep apnea and snoring. While both can disrupt a good night’s sleep, they’re distinct conditions with different causes, symptoms, and consequences. 

Our Denton, TX, dentists break down the differences and similarities between sleep apnea and snoring, helping you better understand these sleep-related issues.

woman covering her ears with her pillows to block out her partner's excessive snoring

What Is Snoring?

Snoring is a common occurrence during sleep and is caused by the vibration of tissues in the throat as a person breathes. Snoring itself is not a sleep disorder but rather a symptom of airway obstruction or resistance to airflow during sleep.

The primary symptom of snoring is the sound produced during sleep. While many snorers don’t experience any significant issues related to their snoring, it can be disruptive to bed partners and occasionally indicate underlying sleep apnea.

What Causes Snoring?

Snoring can be caused by various factors, including:

  • Obesity
  • Enlarged tonsils or adenoids
  • Nasal congestion
  • Sleeping position
  • Alcohol and sedative use
  • Age-related muscle relaxation

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by repeated interruptions in breathing during sleep. These pauses in breathing, known as apneas, can last for seconds to minutes and can occur multiple times during the night. 

There are two primary types of sleep apnea:

  1. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): This is the most common type of sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the throat relax excessively during sleep, leading to the narrowing or complete closure of the airway.
  2. Central Sleep Apnea (CSA): CSA is less common and results from a failure of the brain to transmit the proper signals to the muscles responsible for controlling breathing.

Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Common symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Loud snoring
  • Pauses in breathing during sleep
  • Gasping or choking during sleep
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Morning headache
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability

Differences Between Snoring and Sleep Apnea

There are a few distinguishing factors between sleep apnea and snoring, including:

  • Nature: Sleep apnea involves pauses in breathing during sleep, while snoring is the noisy vibration of tissues during breathing.
  • Consequences: Sleep apnea can lead to serious health issues, including cardiovascular problems, whereas snoring is generally considered a nuisance.
  • Diagnosis: Sleep apnea is diagnosed through sleep studies, while snoring is typically diagnosed based on the sound produced during sleep.
  • Treatment: Treatment for sleep apnea may involve lifestyle changes, devices like CPAP machines, or surgery. Snoring management often includes lifestyle modifications and devices like snoring mouthpieces.
  • Symptoms: Sleep apnea is associated with excessive daytime sleepiness, while snoring may not cause significant daytime symptoms.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Sleep Apnea


  • Diagnosis: Snoring is often diagnosed based on a physical examination and a discussion of symptoms. In some cases, a sleep study may be recommended to rule out sleep apnea.
  • Treatment: Snoring can be managed through lifestyle changes (weight loss, avoiding alcohol and sedatives), positional therapy (changing sleep position), and using snoring mouthpieces or nasal strips.

man snoring with his mouth open

Frequently Asked Questions

Know When to Seek Treatment for Sleep Apnea

If you snore, it’s best to seek a sleep apnea evaluation. While snoring doesn’t always mean you have a sleep disorder, it’s always best to rule it out. To learn more about seeking treatment with our Denton dentists, contact us today by calling (940) 566-4888 to schedule an appointment.

We’re proud to serve patients in Denton and surrounding areas, including Corinth, Argyle, and Krum, TX.

Garden Oaks Family & Cosmetic Dentistry

3312 Teasley Ln.
Suite 200
Denton, TX 76210

Office Hours

8:30am – 5:30pm
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