Back to service listings


for Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea

  1. Snoring

  2. What causes snoring?

  3. What is obstructive sleep apnea?

  4. Help for snoring

  5. What is a dental appliance?

  6. Advantages of Dental Appliance Therapy

  7. Interested? First see your physician

  8. What the dentist can do


While snoring itself may be harmless, it can also develop into, or be a symptom of, a more serious medical condition known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Go to top of page

What causes snoring?

Snoring is caused by a narrow airway. That's because air travels faster through a slender tube than through a broad one. This rapidly moving air causes the soft tissues of the throat (the tonsils, soft palate, and uvula) to vibrate. It is this vibration which is the sound of snoring. It's like putting a flag in front of a fan: the faster the fan, the greater the flutter.

Why is the airway narrow in snorers? Many things can take up space in the airway reducing its diameter. These can include large tonsils, a long soft palate or uvula, and, in people who are overweight, excessively flabby tissue. The most common cause of a narrow airway is a tongue that relaxes too much during sleep and gets sucked back into the airway with each breath taken.

Go to top of page

What is obstructive sleep apnea?

When the tongue is sucked completely against the back of the throat, the airway is blocked and breathing stops. Once that happens, the harder the sleeper tries to breathe, the tighter the airway seal becomes. It's like trying to drink through a straw that's stuck in a lump of ice cream. The harder you suck, the flatter the straw becomes.

The airway obstruction won't clear until the brain's oxygen level falls low enough to partially awaken the sleeper. The tongue then returns to a more normal position, and the airway seal is broken -- usually with a loud gasp.

Go to top of page

Help for snoring

Mild or occasional snoring and symptoms of OSA may be alleviated by lifestyle changes: