Even though he gave up general dentistry more than a decade ago, Dr. Joseph Baba still treats a wide swath of the general population. That’s because his specialties – TMJ and sleep disorders – affect so many people.
“I would say easily that 40 percent of people have a significant problem, and a larger percentage have a transient problem,” Baba said. “At some point in life, almost 80 percent will have a temporary problem.”
Baba opened the TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centre of Kansas in 2007, after 25 years of practicing general dentistry. He sees patients of all ages.
“The way (the center) got started is, I saw a lot of people who had dental breakdowns that had to do with grinding of their teeth and jaw joints,” he said. “I stabilized those problems and their whole dental health got better.”
Sleep apnea — in which a person’s breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep — is often the result of movement of the jaw and tongue. Along with counseling patients on such behavioral changes as losing weight and stopping smoking, Baba uses oral devices to help position patients’ mouths to prevent their airways from becoming blocked, sometimes in conjunction with AutoPAP machines.
Grinding and sleep disorders are responsible for many cases of chronic headaches, Baba said.
“That’s one of the things that gives me the greatest amount of satisfaction, is helping people get rid of headaches they’ve had for five, 10, 15 or 20 years.”
Originally located in St. Francis Medical Park, Baba moved his practice to College Hill in 2015. He receives most of his referrals from other dentists, physicians and people he’s treated. He employs 11 people, mostly dental assistants he calls “somewhat the dental equivalent to physician’s assistants.”
“They have a great deal of training relative to the conditions that we treat, so they’re able to help assess the patients, help make appropriate adjustments to dental appliances and follow up with the kinds of homecare protocols that we ask people to follow.”
In August 2018, Dr. Mark McLaren joined Baba as a partner. A Cassoday native, McLaren graduated from the University of Oklahoma dental school in 2015 and practiced general dentistry in Oklahoma City for a couple years before connecting with Baba with the help of a dental practice broker.
“I knew I wanted to help patients with sleep problems,” McLaren said. The broker “thought we would be a perfect match.”
Baba said he sought a partner because he “wanted to be able to expand the services we provide, and I’m getting to the time in life where I’d like to pass on a lot of what I know — and he’s been more than receptive. He’s been on tremendous educational journey the last 15 to 18 months, not just with me but with other people.”
McLaren said he’s “been flying around the country for weekend courses, probably about every third weekend for a year, learning from some of the best in the world, to be quite honest.”
He’s learned that correcting breathing problems “can apply to asthma and even athletic performance. We’re really growing the ways we can help.”
The TMJ and Sleep Centre of Kansas
4620 E. Douglas, 316-263-2444
Owners: Drs. Joseph Baba and Mark McLaren