Sleep apnea can be caused by underlying medical conditions or onset by outside factors. If you have one of the following conditions, you may be at risk for developing sleep apnea:

Risk Factors

Various medical conditions can contribute to sleep apnea. If you have had a stroke or other forms of trauma to the brain, parts of the brain that help control breathing may be affected. Neuromuscular diseases like multiple sclerosis can also cause sleep apnea since respiratory muscles are weakened. CCHS, a rare genetic condition that affects newborns and young children, is perhaps the rarest cause of sleep apnea. CCHS causes the brain not to signal breathing during both sleep and wakefulness so it is important to monitor your child to see if they have been having difficulty breathing.

Obesity is also a risk factor for sleep apnea. 20% of obese people, as opposed to 3% of the population in a normal weight range, will develop sleep apnea. Fat around the neck pushes in on the throat and reduces the diameter of the airway, while stomach fat can push against the lungs while sleeping and cause the airway to collapse.

Dr. Steven Wilk is a three-time board certified D.D.S. (Doctor of Dental Surgery) based in Denver, CO. He is known for his use of oral appliance therapy to effectively treat sleep apnea and snoring as an alternative to CPAP. After receiving his Bachelor’s Degree from Michigan State University, he attended…

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Additional Causes

Orofacial pain, a disorder that causes frequent pain around the head, neck, and face, can also cause sleep disorders. It is difficult to get comfortable and rest when you are in pain. Orofacial pain is caused by TMD/TMJ, dental conditions such as cavities or abscesses, and conditions that cause neural pain. TMJ is a condition that causes jaw pain while chewing and is often recognized by the jaw locking and making audible clicks. Orofacial pain can be treated with medication, rehabilitation, pain-relieving procedures, and counseling; hopefully, by treating your orofacial pain, symptoms of sleep apnea will be relieved.

Other causes stem from outside factors. Opioids diminish the brain’s ability to regulate breathing which can cause the development of obstructive or central sleep apnea.


I was using a CPAP machine( which was very cumbersome ), until I visited Dr. Wilk two years ago, he fit me with a mouth appliance to substitute the CPAP machine. I was very skeptical at the beginning but it worked great with no discomfort, now I sleep and feel better, and when I travel I just take a small mouth guard case, so much more convenient. I highly recommend Dr. Wilk for his services, he and his staff are very professional and also very nice.

Excellent service every time! Attention to details, helpful and knowledgeable staff!

Dr. Wilk saw me for my TMJ issues. I was having really bad migraines, and neck pain. He was so kind and caring. He helped me fix the issues I was having. On my really bad days he gave me injections that made me feel like a whole new person. After he fixed my TMJ I started seeing him for my dental treatment the work that he has done on my mouth is amazing. I had some crown and veneers done on my upper teeth I love my smile. I would recommend Dr. Wilk to anyone!!!

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Sleep apnea can be dangerous because it is difficult to recognize your own symptoms while you sleep. Oftentimes, someone else will tell you that you snore loudly or gasp in your sleep. You may catch on to certain symptoms, however, such as excessive sleepiness during the day. Other symptoms include:

  • Insomnia: difficulty staying asleep
  • Morning headache
  • Waking up with a dry mouth
  • Difficulty paying attention during the day


To receive your diagnosis and learn more about a treatment plan for sleep apnea, schedule a consultation with Dr. Wilk at the Denver Sleep Apnea Center today.