Dr. Eric Phelps is a proud graduate of Leigh High School in San Jose. He was blessed with an engineering education at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and, after graduating summa cum laude, he had the honor of attending the UCLA School of Dentistry as a UC Regent Scholar. Dr. Phelps earned a Master’s Degree in Oral Biology with an emphasis on bone cell research while concurrently earning his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree. He then completed the UCLA Orthodontic Residency while furthering his Master’s Degree research. Dr. Phelps has thousands of hours of continuing education, training, and study with an emphasis on craniofacial development, temporomandibular disorders, chronic facial pain, airway obstruction, and sleep-related breathing disorders.
Areas of Interest
Dr. Phelps strives to achieve optimal smile esthetics for every patient. To achieve this, he focuses not only on tooth alignment but also the following: vertical position of teeth in the smile (also referred to as smile arc), width of the smile, and whether or not the front teeth are in the right position in the face in the anterior/posterior perspective. The image shows a finished case with ideal arch width and smile arc.
Dr. Phelps uses iCAT 3-D imaging to analyze the anatomical improvements created by orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics. For example, maxillary expansion not only creates space for teeth to avoid bicuspid extraction, but the expansion often improves the volume of the nasal and pharyngeal airways. Dr. Phelps studies pre and post treatment functional breathing data from sleep studies and rhinomanometry to evaluate how the increased airway volume translates to improved airway function. The image shows expansion of the maxilla (blue arrow) from pretreatment (green) to posttreatment (grey) with expansion of the nasal passage as shown near the inferior turbinates (yellow arrow).
Far Reaching Effects of Sleep-Related Breathing Disorders
Research shows that ADHD, anxiety, depression, headaches and many more symptoms/syndromes are often associated with airway obstruction and sleep-related breathing disorders (SRBDs). For a comprehensive list please follow this link to a table from an excellent 2005 publication by Dr. Christian Guilleminault: Pediatric Sleep Apnea Syndrome. The 2017 Policy Statement put forth by the American Dental Association highlights the importance of screening patients for SRBDs. You can find the statement here: The Role of Dentistry in Sleep-Related Breathing Disorders. Dr. Phelps collaborates with physicians to bridge the gap between dentistry and medicine as we take a holistic approach to helping patients enhance their quality of life. The image shows a rendering of a narrow pharyngeal airway.
Airway Obstruction, Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD), and Chronic Pain
Dr. Phelps treats patients with airway obstruction, TMD, and chronic pain at Nor Cal Airway. Dr. Phelps started Nor Cal Airway to help patients like himself; he was diagnosed with severe sleep apnea in 2018. With his personal medical history and what he learns from caring for patients with airway obstruction (which often leads to TMD and chronic pain), Dr. Phelps collaborates with sleep physicians and otolaryngologists (ear, nose, and throat physicians—ENTs), when indicated, to assist patients in achieving optimal airway health and function. The jaw joint images show osteoarthritis of both condyles. For this patient, the degenerative joints resulted in limited opening and chronic pain, especially when chewing. This patient was successfully treated with joint decompression.
Outside the Office
Dr. Phelps and his wife Suzanne enjoy visiting the Central Coast (SLO and Pismo Beach) to relax by the ocean and visit their boy/girl twins who are students at Cal Poly. The Phelps family are passionate about supporting FIRST (Foundation for Ichthyosis and Related Skin Types) after the loss of their son, Dane Christian, in 2008, to a novel form of ichthyosis.
Commitment to Education
Dr. Phelps lectures nationally on topics that include orthodontics, dentofacial orthopedics, midface anatomy, airway health, and sleep apnea.
Previous Speaking Engagements:
- Damon Forum: Phoenix, Arizona
- Fort Study Club: Fort Wayne, Indiana
- 3rd Annual Pediatric Airway Symposium: San Jose, California (Host)
- UCLA Orthodontic Residency: Los Angeles, California
- Ormco Forum: Palm Desert, California
- Dolphin User’s Meeting: Austin, Texas
- American Academy of Craniofacial Pain
- San Joaquin Dental Society
- Berkeley Dental Society
- 4th Annual Pediatric Airway Symposium: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Future Speaking Engagements:
- North Central Dental Society: South Bend, Indiana
- American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine: Dallas, Texas
- 5th Annual Pediatric Airway Symposium: South Bend, Indiana
- American Board of Orthodontics
- American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine
- Nor Cal Airway Study Club (Founder)
- American Association of Orthodontics
- American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine
- American Dental Association
- California Dental Association
- Santa Clara County Dental Society