Dr. Alan Blanton, who was diagnosed with moderate obstructive sleep apnea, 11 years ago, today is director of the William F. Slagle Center for Dental Sleep Medicine and Orofacial Pain in the College of Dentistry at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.
The diagnosis eventually drew Dr. Blanton away from his private practice in Collierville. He is certified by the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine, the certification arm of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, a sister organization of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
The center, which opened in 2017, offers Oral Appliance Therapy for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea and orofacial pain.
"Obstructive sleep apnea is one of the most underdiagnosed medical conditions in the United States," Dr. Blanton said. "Estimates are that 25 to 30 million or more individuals in the adult population suffer from sleep apnea, and more than 90 percent of them are undiagnosed and untreated."
Oral appliance therapy uses custom-fitted oral appliances that are attached to the teeth to hold the lower jaw in a slightly forward position, stabilizing it and lifting tissues up to prevent the airway collapse from occurring. Worn only during sleep, an oral appliance fits like a sports mouth guard or an orthodontic retainer. The patient is fitted with the device that best suits the mouth shape and the breathing issue. Follow-up visits ensure it sits properly and is relieving the problem.