Snoring can be far more serious than it seems. Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by the tongue or jaw or some other oral obstruction blocking the airway during sleep. This results in the patient stopping breathing periodically through the night and can have severe impact on overall health over time. Sleep apnea is often successfully treated with oral appliance therapy or a CPAP machine. However, some severe cases may require surgery to widen the airway, reduce the size of the tongue or remove the oral obstruction. Surgery is generally viewed as a last resort and performed only when other treatments haven't worked.