NY Times Highlights “Mouth Guards” for OSA

When the health beat of the New York Times highlights the potential benefits of oral appliances for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), it’s yet another sign that the mass media is paying attention to sleep medicine in a big way. The latest is a May 31 NY Times article (For Sleep Apnea, a Mouth Guard May be a Good Alternative to CPAP) by Nicholas Bakalar that declares, “CPAP machines can be noisy, cumbersome and uncomfortable, and many people stop using the devices altogether, which can have dire long-term consequences.”

Continuing with its positive slant, Bakalar contends: “Mouth guards may be a more comfortable and easy-to-use alternative for many people with obstructive sleep apnea, according to a new report.” The report is a study published in Laryngoscope that looked at 347 people with sleep apnea who were fitted with a mouth guard by an otolaryngologist. Two-thirds of patients reported they were comfortable wearing the devices, and the devices “appeared to be effective in helping to relieve the disordered breathing of obstructive sleep apnea.”

“It’s easy to tolerate, effective and it costs a lot less than CPAP,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Guillaume Buiret, head of otolaryngology at Valence Hospital in Valence, France in the NY Times article. “Thirty to 40 percent of our patients can’t use CPAP, and these patients almost always find the dental appliance helpful. I would recommend it as a first-line treatment.”

In a nod to the dental profession, Dr. Sara E. Benjamin, a neurologist and sleep specialist at Johns Hopkins, is quoted as saying: “We recommend a custom device made by a dentist.”

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