Every single day, thousands of people in the United States succumb to preventable diseases. For this reason, many people have been integrating preventative, functional medicine into their wellness routines and medical care. Functional dentistry builds on this idea, applying a whole body approach to oral and dental care.
Functional dentistry does NOT mean:
- That we do not use evidenced-based approaches to care
- That we do not use x-ray technology to aid in diagnosis (Dr. Chamberlain is good, but she does not have x-ray vision!)
- That we are able to avoid treatment on teeth that are already seriously compromised
- That we believe that all of certain treatments are bad for everyone (i.e. root canals) – we assess your personal risk factors to that treatment and help you decide what choice will work best for you – and yes, sometimes this might include recommending a root canal!
- That we don’t recommend the use of appropriate antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, or other Western Medicine medicaments where appropriate and/or necessary
Functional dentistry does mean:
- That we give you the autonomy to make the best health decisions for yourself and family while also providing you with all the information & education you need to get there
- That we can help guide you on how to PREVENT future issues from happening by deducing how the problem arose in the first place
- That we have an emphasis on AIRWAY, and making sure you’re getting good sleep!
Functional dentistry is an approach to dentistry that:
- Emphasizes prevention of oral disease such as oral microbiome management, treatment of sleep-disordered breathing, and nutritional recommendations
- We aim to use the least toxic and most biocompatible materials available on the market when treating dental issues – however, we are still limited to using regulated dental materials and we strive to use products that are actually effective; but we do pay close attention to the components of these materials
- We focus on addressing the root causes of oral disease
- We promote a total-body approach to dental health, and we recognize that oral health gives us insights into overall health and wellness
In functional dentistry, a dentist doesn’t just treat tooth decay, bad breath, or gum disease. Dr. Chamberlain knows that these are generally outward symptoms of larger problems and she looks to address those problems instead.
Functional Dentistry vs. Conventional Dentistry
Let’s compare the approaches of functional dentistry and conventional dentistry to common dental issues.
It’s common for dentists to blame tooth decay on a failure to brush and floss enough. In reality, brushing and flossing is only a small part of the oral health equation! Dr. Chamberlain realizes that eating the right foods for your body is the best way to prevent cavities and even heal some small ones that already exist. The right diet is rich in healthy fats, high-quality proteins, vitamin K2-rich foods, and leafy greens. It also contains very minimal processed foods, sugar, grains, and acidic foods and drinks – if it contains any at all. Dr. Chamberlain and her team can help you better understand how food choices contribute to bacteria growth and cavity formation.
Metal fillings (which are silver in color) contain mercury and other metals, which can leach from the fillings over time. At Vitality Dental, we place composite fillings, which are a healthier and more beautiful solution.
Why don’t we recommend using conventional mouthrinses? They are great at killing the harmful bacteria in your mouth, but they do NOT discriminate – they kill the good bacteria too! Beneficial bacteria is necessary to support remineralization and fresh breath. Your mouth requires a balance of good bacteria in order to fight bad breath, cavities, and oral disease. Performing thorough brushing (especially with a nano-hydroxyapatite toothpaste), tongue scraping, flossing, and eating a minimally processed, lower carbohydrate diet can all support a healthy oral microbiome.
If you struggle with bad breath, mouth taping (which promotes nasal breathing and prevents dry mouth) and tongue scraping may help.
Root canals can be a necessary component of functional dentistry. At Vitality Dental, we will provide you alternative options (when possible), while also teaching you how to properly care for your teeth so that you don’t need another root canal in the future.
When plaque builds up along the gum line, and the bacteria in that plaque starts releasing toxins, inflammation and gum disease can occur. Scaling and root planing are treatments that address these conditions by cleaning deep beneath the gums.
Your mouth doesn’t exist in a vacuum and is closely related to the health of your body as a whole. In functional dentistry, there are two main components of treating a patient with gum disease.
1) We evaluate for trauma to the gum tissue and assess the bite and tooth alignment so we can figure out what’s causing breakdown and/or recession of the gum tissues.
2) Evaluate the root of the problem — even beyond diet. Gum disease can sometimes be related to autoimmune disease, blood sugar dysregulation, or chronic levels of total-body inflammation. There are times when Dr. Chamberlain will refer patients to a general practitioner for blood work and follow-up to see if any of those issues are at play.
How to Apply Functional Dentistry At Home
There are so many things you can do at home to take a preventive approach to your oral and dental health!
Try out the following:
- Keep your mouth moist and avoid mouth breathing. Try mouth taping to see if you’re actually breathing through your nose at night, and to fix the problem if you aren’t. You should also drink plenty of water to stay well-hydrated throughout the day.
- Follow an 80/20 rule with your diet. Eat remineralizing foods and avoid demineralizing foods at least 80 percent of the time. A Paleo or ketogenic diet is a healthy solution for your mouth and body.
- Practice proper dental hygiene. Brush at least two minutes in the morning and at night (with hydroxyapatite toothpaste), making sure to brush softly in a circular motion and remembering to replace your brush every 1-3 months. (You can also purchase a subscription with an electric toothbrush company that will deliver replacement heads to your doorstep at regular intervals so you don’t have to remember). Be sure to also scrape your tongue and floss daily.
- Take helpful vitamins and supplements. Dr. Chamberlain recommends vitamin D3, vitamin K2, vitamin A, calcium, oral probiotics, and trace minerals. These can be especially helpful for remineralizing cavities – Get your levels checked with a functional medicine practitioner!
- Follow our Instagram and Facebook pages for more recommendations!
Request an appointment online using the “How Can We Help” form below or give us a call to schedule an appointment at (816) 452-9700.