Dr. Sara Vizcarra, DDS
Nestled at the base of beautiful Pinnacle Peak Mountain, Dr. Sara Vizcarra, DDS, discovered her forever dental home. By March 2006, she became owner of the prestigious Pinnacle Peak Family Dentistry, a 1,000-square-foot space that was going to push her past the boundaries of “mouth-focused dentistry.” Dr. Sara—as she is known to her patients and dental family—began pouring countless hours into helping those in her community gain the overall health standards that she felt was deserved.
The patients of Pinnacle Peak Family Dentistry did not let this go unnoticed. Within the first five years of ownership, Vizcarra was in such high demand that she expanded the office for the first time since it opened in 1998.
Who’s Helping Whom?
Even in her earliest years as a dentist, Vizcarra was helping support her patients through the most complex of dental needs, including aesthetic and full-mouth rehabilitation cases. The more difficult the case was, the more of a thirst she developed for the knowledge to help truly understand her patients’ needs. This led Vizcarra to invest time and money into attending continuing education courses that helped her gain thousands of hours in training with the nation’s top dental and specialty providers.
During her time in these courses, there was something that always stuck out to Vizcarra and truly hit close to home for her as a dentist: head and neck pain associated with teeth grinding and snoring. As a new mom, she found her then 12-month-old son was beginning to grind his teeth. With the information she had obtained, it became evident this was not a normal trait for any person of any age and was a sign of something much bigger.
In addition, she suffered from temporal headaches, neck pain, TMJ disorder and insomnia. Through her thirst of learning more, it was evident that her sleep cycle and pain were very much connected. All these discoveries have led Vizcarra to want to help her patients sleep better and feel better.
Having sleep problems? Your dentist might just be the answer
Even though sleep apnea is treatable, it often goes unrecognized, which can be dangerous and detrimental to your health. While many people might first visit their physician or an ear, nose and throat specialist, they are skipping a key team player in the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea and snoring: the dentist. Since dentists care for their patients twice a year, it places them in a unique position to help screen and make the necessary referrals for the proper treatment of sleep breathing disorders.
Tooth Grinding and Sleep Apnea— what’s the connection?
Until more recently, tooth grinding was looked at as a mystery by most doctors and dentists. The final verdict was that it was likely caused by things like stress. In more recent studies, tooth grinding can actually be a response mechanism to a more serious problem.
After continued research, Vizcarra found there is a much higher relation between tooth grinding and some of the many sleep breathing disorders. When someone stops breathing in their sleep, tooth grinding is one of the responses made by the body to position the jaw in a manner that allows the airway to open back up. If the patient wasn’t able to create the space needed for air to come through, the body would make a sound that most find obnoxious: a snore. Snoring is the outcome of the body trying to force air through a semi-collapsed airway. As normal as snoring may seem, it is the body’s way of indicating a type of suffocation taking place.
Vizcarra felt she was the perfect provider to help educate patients on these seemingly common ailments that cause more problems than a disgruntled bed partner. In addition to her dental practice, she began offering treatment therapy for tooth grinding, snoring and sleep apnea in a beautiful new office: AZ Sleep & TMJ Solutions.
At AZ Sleep & TMJ Solutions in North Scottsdale, Vizcarra continues to expand her knowledge by regularly attending lectures and seminars to ensure the best care possible. She also lectures to other providers in the community to bring awareness of signs and symptoms that are often overlooked. She has become a diplomate for the American Board of Craniofacial Pain and American Board of Craniofacial Dental Sleep Medicine). By adding these personal touches for her dental patients at Pinnacle Peak Family Dentistry, Vizcarra is committed to the best care possible to AZ Sleep & TMJ Solutions patients as well.