According to The Los Angeles Times prescription devices that pull the lower jaw forward can relieve snoring and are often effective for mild to moderate cases of sleep apnea, says Dr. Barbara Phillips, a sleep specialist at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and a board member of the National Sleep Foundation.
But, she adds, inexpensive, over-the-counter appliances are unproven and potentially dangerous. People with apnea need professional attention from a doctor or a dentist, she warns, not a $40 mouthpiece purchased over the Internet. “Just because something is cheap doesn’t mean it’s worth a try,” she says.
Dr. Alan Lowe, professor of orthodontics at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, says that nonprescription appliances can relieve snoring without addressing the apnea, creating an easy-to-overlook “silent apnea” that could still threaten health.
Among the prescription devices, there’s some evidence that the most expensive options are also the most effective. In a 2008 Belgian study, 35 patients with mild sleep apnea tried a custom-fitted appliance and a boil-and-bite device for four months each. Twenty-one were able to successfully control their snoring and apnea with the custom device, but only 11 had such luck with the boil-and-bite model. Nineteen out of 23 patients who stuck with each appliance for the full four months said they preferred the custom appliance.
It is quite surprising that consumers hold on to the believe that over-the-counter products can heal serious ailments. This holds true in the aesthetic market as well. There are cellulite pills, weight loss pills, and many different facial creams claiming to make the face wrinkle free. Dr. O’Toole cautions his patients, buyer beware. Facelift will never come in a jar, liposuction will never come in a pill ,and the cure for cellulite has yet to be discovered.
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