It should be noted that while severe snoring can indicate an apnea problem, it can also simply be caused by a somewhat obstructed airway.
The likelihood of snoring increases with a weight problem and can possibly be reduced by… losing weight. Too much alcohol also causes snoring; alcohol is a sedative, and it relaxes the muscles of the neck and tongue, thereby blocking breathing and increasing noise.
Snoring is also unfortunately caused by the aging process. It's not just the muscles in our arms and legs that get soft, but also those in our tongue and even the uvula, the little thing hanging down the back of our throat. As the muscle tone in our airways decreases, tissues are more likely to vibrate when subjected to the increased air pressure as we breathe with a narrowing air passage in our sleep.
Also, having his molars removed for childhood braces - a common practice for today's generation of baby boomers - means that as he gets older his mouth gets smaller and his tongue bigger.
As long as it does not mean apnea, snoring in itself is not dangerous and does not cause serious sleep problems for the snorer. On the flip side, many of my insomniac clients suffer from their companion's wakefulness, whereas I often see snorers who often cannot endure the pain of sleeping separately despite their desperate spouse's requests.
One possible remedy is surgery.
Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, or UPPP, helps expand the airways. However, there are risks involved in surgery, and patients are known to have difficulty swallowing or have the unpleasant feeling that something is stuck in their airways.
Another possibility is somnoplasty.
This process removes or shrinks tissue using microwaves and can be done in a doctor's office. However, if the procedure works properly, the benefits cannot last more than a few years and the risk of voice change exists.
Oral appliances are less drastic, less problematic, and less expensive, with reversible side effects where applicable. These devices usually help, but do not eliminate the problem.
The first of these is mandibular advancement devices, which advance the tongue and lower jaw to open the airways and help reduce or eliminate snoring. These are advertised all over the internet, but they must be properly adjusted by a professional for their effectiveness and comfort. The device needs to stay in the mouth all night, and while it works well, snorers may not like the unpleasant feeling of a large object preventing their mouth from closing. Teeth are indeed realigned overnight but people can still experience sensitive tooth movements or drooling teeth.
Nasal dilators are less intrusive for those who can't stand sleeping with an object in their mouth. These seek to open the nostrils to reduce pressure and make it easier to breathe through the nose. These can either be in the form of a somewhat stiff patch on the bridge of the nose to open the nostrils, or a small silicone ring inserted into the nose to do the same.
Smart Nora is an inflatable pillow to place under your pillow, which slightly lifts the snorer's head when it detects a snoring, to open the airways. The solution is expensive and the microphone detecting the snore must be placed with care.
Singing for Snorers is an online English DVD program that I have recommended to several clients with satisfactory results. Created by a singing teacher and validated in a hospital environment, the techniques teach singing exercises to strengthen the soft tissues of the respiratory tract and limit vibrations.
Unfortunately, no independent study has proven the effectiveness of these products, with the exception of Singing for Snorers. The only solution is to try to find what works best for you. Remember that when calculating costs, these devices will need to be replaced regularly, with the exception of Smart Nora.