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New Granite Bay dentists share special focus

Harris-Dental specializes in snoring, sleep apnea disorders
By: Margaret Snider, Granite Bay View correspondent
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Harris-Dental and Epigenetic Orthodontics

Who: Dr. William “Bill” Harris and Dr. Matt Harris

Where: 6965 Douglas Blvd., Granite Bay

Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday

Phone: (916) 778-4100

Website: www.harris-dental.com

There are a number of reasons that Harris-Dental in Granite Bay is remarkable. One, it is a father-and-son team. Next, they recently came from Canada. Finally, besides providing general family and cosmetic dentistry, they have a special focus.

“What makes us different is this whole area of epigenetic orthodontics. We use this treatment for snoring, sleep apnea and TMJ problems,” said Dr. William “Bill” Harris, 57. “So we are a general dental practice with some specialized skills that I’m teaching my son.”

Dr. Matt Harris, 29, said he always wanted to practice with his dad.

“I knew that he, with 30 years of experience, knew a lot more than I would have coming out of school,” he said. “Specifically with sleep apnea and TMJ problems and craniofacial diagnosis, things like that – they don’t really give you much in school.”

Sleep apnea is a medical condition in which a person momentarily stops breathing during sleep.

“It’s a medical condition that’s diagnosed by a medical doctor,” said Bill Harris, who belongs to the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine. “If you’re diagnosed with sleep apnea, then we can treat it.”

Harris-Dental often treats by oral appliance therapy in order to maximize jaw size and improve the air flow. They do this with a device that is worn at night called the DNA appliance.

“It’s like an orthodontic retainer, but it has a little screw in the middle,” Bill Harris said. “By wearing this after work and when you sleep, you can actually widen your jaw. We copy what nature does.”

One of the patients the team has helped with this problem is their own registered dental assistant, Michelle Martinez. When she filled out the health history form, she noted that she had headaches and her cheeks would get sore. A dental exam revealed some chipped and broken teeth and it was discovered that she was clenching.

They asked if she would like to try the DNA appliance, and she was fitted.

“I had never slept through the night prior to wearing the appliance,” Martinez said.

Before, she would wake up from three to seven times a night with a little coughing snort.

“After wearing the appliance for just a couple of weeks, I was sleeping through the night,” Martinez said. “My teeth were not sore the next morning from clenching all night. My cheeks stopped hurting and I’ve just noticed a major quality change in my life from that.”

It was really Matt Harris, or rather his wife, Casey, who brought them to this area. They attended the same high school in Canada.

“Her mom lives in Canada, but her dad lives here in Auburn,” Matt Harris said. “She decided that the sunshine and the warmness were the most important things to her, so Canada was out of the question. So we decided we’d come here. We started dating at BYU and got married while we were there, as well.”

Now they have two sons – Luke, 3, and Liam, 8 months – and live in Loomis.

The two Harrises took over the practice from retiring Granite Bay dentist Dr. Brian Lawton. One of Lawton’s clients, Rill Wright of Granite Bay, was hesitant at first to go to a dentist she didn’t know. But she was in the midst of an ongoing dental problem and needed to go in.

“I’m so glad I was, because in that time I got to know them, and learned about their story,” Wright said. “I just think it’s wonderful that his son, Matt, who is also a dentist, is working there right alongside his dad. Maybe I’m just a sucker for family businesses, but I just think that’s kind of neat.”

Wright was also interested in their special focus.

“I’m guessing there isn’t a dentist in the three-county area or wider that has this specialty – it’s a dental method that’s really rather easy on the patient,” she said. “An appliance is worn at night only, and it very gently and gradually spreads the upper palate and it goes very directly to relieving or eliminating snoring and sleep apnea, which is something that a lot of people suffer with. He’s not only certified to do this, he teaches it.”

Bill Harris still has a practice in Canada and commutes twice a month to work with patients there.

“I’m so glad that I was forced to interact with them,” Wright said, “because I got to know them and how experienced they are and I just feel Granite Bay ought to welcome them.”