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What is Functional Pediatric Dentistry?

Functional Dentistry is an approach to dental care that focuses on root causes and prevention. This approach includes:

  • Focusing on the root causes of dental and oral disease, working with each patient as individuals to develop a treatment plan specifically tailored to their physical and emotional needs.
  • Promoting and educating on a whole-body approach to dental and oral health, teaching that the health of the mouth impacts the overall health of our bodies and that diet is the key to overall health.
  • Emphasizing prevention for oral-systemic diseases such as supporting our oral microbiome, recognizing and treating issues like sleep-disordered breathing, myofunctional imbalances, and any nutritional deficiencies or concerns seen in the mouth, and making achievable and manageable dietary recommendations and lifestyle changes.
  • Aiming to use only the most non-toxic and biocompatible materials available when treating dental issues, attempting first to allow the body to heal innately if this is appropriate.
  • Empowering patients to be their healthcare advocates and prioritize their health through education and emotional support. Other names for this approach to dentistry can include Integrative Dentistry, Functional Dentistry, Biological Dentistry, and Natural Dentistry. While they may all have similar philosophies to their practices, they differ in the approaches and procedures offered.
When should you start brushing your children’s teeth?

Proper oral hygiene begins before your baby starts teething. Before your child’s teeth come in, you should care for the gums like you would the teeth.


After feeding, gently rub your baby’s gums with a moist washcloth or gauze pad to remove any bacteria growing there and start to desensitize to oral hygiene routines. You can also buy xylitol wipes for your baby’s gums, which can be great if you’re in a rush.

Babies can start using toothpaste when their first tooth begins to come in, but we often suggest starting with water only and working toward a paste. My favorite toothpaste has hydroxyapatite and is free from emulsifiers, surfactants, SLS, artificial dyes and flavors, and excessive essential oils.


Even if your baby’s teeth are barely coming through the gums, you should start an oral hygiene routine, ideally every night, and work toward the morning time, too. Breastmilk by itself doesn’t cause cavities, but it accelerates tooth decay when it mixes with sugars and starches from foods in the mouth, if your child is a mouth breather, or if there is undermineralization of the teeth. Don’t skip brushing your baby’s teeth!

What are good oral hygiene tips for kids?

Doctor Staci recommends the following oral hygiene practices for kids.

  • Children should brush their teeth twice a day with a soft bristle brush in a circular motion along the teeth and gum line and floss at least once a day, ideally at night. Many will tell you to brush for 2 minutes, but I feel this is too long for toddlers and young children—quality over quantity. I would shoot for a minute-ish once all 20 primary teeth are in, and once they start getting adult molars, then move towards 2 minutes.
  • Floss is BOSS. Nightly flossing needs to become a non-negotiable as almost all cavities we find in kids hide between their back molars. Don’t get tricked by spaces in the front teeth. Back molars almost always are touching! Try flossing at bedtime in the bedroom along with nighttime stories and lay kids back on the bed, in your arms, or on a beanbag, as you will be able to see so much better and be faster as a result!
  • Parents or caregivers should help their young children brush and floss their teeth until they are 10. As children get older, parents can allow them to brush and floss their teeth themselves but should check and monitor afterward to ensure all the areas of their month are clean.
  • Children should rinse their mouths with water after meals or snacks and wait 30 minutes before brushing after food. The acidity from eating can leave teeth slightly demineralized, and brushing too soon can damage the enamel of your teeth.
  • Try making flossing fun for your kids with songs, dance parties, chasing animals around their mouths, reward charts. Consistency is key, and some sessions will be better than others, but eventually, they will get there!
  • Children should come in every 6 months for routine examinations to review hygiene, diet, and airway and facial development. If we catch things early, we can often course-correct quickly!
What are the best baby and toddler toothpaste?

Doctor Staci generally recommends using fluoride-free toothpaste containing hydroxyapatite, a mineral that makes up most of your tooth enamel and your bones. Many natural toothpaste brands contain hydroxyapatite, offering excellent cavity protection and remineralization. Hydroxyapatite is recommended for babies and young children who cannot spit yet. It is also safe to swallow and is non-toxic.


There is a lot of research backing the remineralization properties of hydroxyapatite in terms of restorative and preventive dentistry. Nano-hydroxyapatite has significant remineralizing effects on early enamel lesions, is as effective as conventional fluoride, and diminishes teeth sensitivity.


Hydroxyapatite fills in microporosities, filling in any weak spots in the enamel, keeping your teeth strong and free of dental caries. In fact, hydroxyapatite can work better than fluoride!

Traditional toothpaste can contain harmful ingredients that actually can disrupt our oral microbiome and cause more harm than good, like:

  • Artificial colors
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Artificial flavors
  • Artificial preservatives
  • Detergents like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) can cause mouth ulcers and damage the lining of the mouth.
  • Gluten (found in some children’s toothpaste)
  • Emulsifiers
  • Surfactants
  • Fluoride
  • Glycerin
What is hydroxyapatite?

Does a toothpaste ingredient that rebuilds teeth and is TOTALLY non-toxic sound too good to be true?


It’s not.


Hydroxyapatite (HAp) is the structure that makes up 97 percent of your enamel and 70 percent of your dentin. It’s used as an alternative ingredient to replace fluoride in toothpaste.


  • HAp is a non-toxic ingredient that is safe even when swallowed.
  • Hydroxyapatite toothpaste performs equally to fluoride in scientific research.
  • HAp remineralizes teeth and reverses lesions on teeth that could otherwise become cavities.
  • Toothpaste with HAp makes teeth look whiter WITHOUT a whitening ingredient like peroxide.
  • Nano-HAp has been the “gold standard” for toothpaste in Japan for over 40 years.
  • Unlike fluoride, HAp doesn’t disrupt the oral microbiome
  • HAp toothpaste makes your teeth more resistant to acidic pH (saliva has to be slightly acidic to break down foods).
  • Using HAp toothpaste may help improve gum health if you have existing gum disease or gingivitis.

A 2019 study in BDJ Open compared hydroxyapatite toothpaste to fluoride toothpaste in preventing cavities in kids. They concluded that HAp toothpaste is just as effective as fluoride!



  • There are two basic-sized particles used for HAp toothpaste — nano-HAp and micro-HAp. Most of the time, if you see HAp, it’s the micro-sized particles, although nano is proving to have better results and efficacy..
  • Both nano- and micro-HAp protect against cavities.
  • Nano-HAp seems to be better at preventing and reversing sensitive teeth and arresting and reversing cavities.

Doctor Staci’s absolute favorite toothpaste is @boka’s nano-HAp toothpaste. Try it out — it’s even safe for your little ones. HAp toothpaste is harmless if swallowed. ⁣


Bonus: Shop BOKA for HAp toothpaste and use discount code DOCTORSTACI for 20 percent off.

What are the worst toothpaste ingredients?

READ YOUR LABELS, not just for food, but also for toothpaste! Just because it says “natural” does not necessarily mean it is free of ingredients that may be systemically damaging. Many harmful ingredients in oral health products, cosmetics, and household cleaners are banned in other countries. Fingers crossed, we get stricter here, too.


In the meantime, know your chemicals! If you do not recognize a substance or cannot pronounce it, it is best to research it a bit. Also, as with endless things in medicine and health, human studies are difficult due to regulations, ethics, and funding, but Doctor Staci always feels that having fewer chemicals on and in our bodies is best. Here are some of the top ingredients to be leery of in toothpaste.

  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). Used at one point in history to clean floors, SLS is an actual detergent (hence the foaming nature) that can cause small micro-tears in the mucosal lining of your mouth and exacerbate ulcers or canker sores. If you are prone to them, I would avoid it. Be careful and check labels. A very popular “natural” strawberry-flavored paste for kids has SLS in it! Most parents I talk to have no idea! Marketing is tricky, so be careful out there!
  • Parabens. Used as a preservative, parabens can mimic estrogen and may cause developmental and/or reproductive issues, even causing potential tumors.
  • Triclosan. Studies link this ingredient to a potential decrease in thyroid hormones and an increase in antibiotic resistance, and it has been shown to cause tumors in test animals.
  • Fluoride. Yes, this one is controversial, but fluoride is proving to be concerning in more and more studies. Most research involves systemic ingestion, such as with fluoridated water, but it is absorbed to some degree through your oral mucosa, as well as amounts that are swallowed.
What can parents do if their children snore?

While snoring and other sleep issues may be common, none of them are normal and should not be ignored.


Signs of sleep-disordered breathing include

  • Grinding
  • Snoring
  • Noisy Breathing
  • Twisted Bedsheets
  • Waking Up Frequently
  • Night Terrors
  • Mouth Breathing
  • Breath-Holding
  • Inability to Focus/Hyperactivity
  • Prolonged Bed-Wetting
  • Waking Up Exhausted

Parents are often told that grinding and snoring are normal and their child will “grow out of it.” These seemingly innocent issues can be signs of more significant health concerns relating to tonsils, adenoids, nasal patency, tongue-tie, improper tongue posture, and/or swallow pattern, atypical jaw and facial growth, environmental or food allergies, or genetics.


Mouth breathing is NOT GOOD! Even a slightly opened mouth during the day is not ideal. Lips should be closed, and you should be breathing through your noses.


With mouth breathing, you take in up to 20 percent less oxygen, and this can negatively affect a child’s growth, brain development, and reaching deep and restorative sleep. PLUS, it can increase cavities by drying out oral tissues and lowering the pH in the mouth, making a perfect terrain for pathogenic bacteria to thrive.


An open mouth posture can become a bad habit and lead to facial and jaw growth development concerns that can potentially lead to sleep issues, such as sleep apnea.


Please get a consult for your child. It is far better to catch these issues as little smoldering concerns before they are full-blown fires!


A consult with a provider who has spent extra time and education on airway and growth issues in children is ideal. Often therapies involve an entire team, so the earlier they can intervene, the better the outcomes for your child.


Don’t fear being an advocate for your child. Doctor Staci highly recommends reading Sleep Wrecked Kids by Sharon Moore. You can find this on Amazon, of course, and after reading it, you will better understand your child’s overall airway and sleep health. It’s always better to ask and get answers than to assume everything is normal. Trust your parenting instinct! Go with your gut.

How can you help your children breathe through their noses?

Mouth breathing is not ideal for your little ones’ health. It may be common, but it is not normal. Here are some tips on what you can do to help your children breathe through their noses.

  • BREASTFEED as long as you are able (at least 12 months is best). If this isn’t achievable, IT’S OK! There are other options. But the breast is ideal for jaw and airway development.
  • TRY TO AVOID PACIFIERS AND BOTTLES as best you can, as they can disrupt jaw growth and airway development. When you transition away from breastfeeding, switch to a low-flow bottle so that the baby still has to “work” for the milk or offer an open cup. Ask your IBCLC or pediatrician what they recommend for your baby, especially regarding early pacifier use and SIDS. Young babies often benefit from pacifiers, especially if premature or just to self-regulate. Still, after age 6-7 months old, most benefits are gone, and it is time to consider removing them altogether.
  • RELEASE TONGUE AND LIP TIES. These must be properly diagnosed and only are concerning if causing functional issues. These cannot be diagnosed through pictures only and must be assessed in person for a proper diagnosis. Talk to your pediatrician, pediatric dentist, or ENT about releasing the ties — just be sure to work with an IBCLC and/or myofunctional therapist before and after, depending on the child’s age.
  • BREAK THUMB/FINGER-SUCKING HABITS. Thumb or finger-sucking is a great way to self-soothe and comfort, but it’s also a way to disrupt palatal and facial growth during early childhood. Prolonged thumb or finger sucking can indicate underlying myofunctional or developmental issues, so getting to root causes is best.
  • CHANGE UP FOOD TEXTURES and make sure your baby/toddler eats not only soft foods but plenty of fresh, whole, CRUNCHY foods of all shapes and sizes. Crunchy, chewy foods like carrots, celery, meats, nuts, and seeds help facilitate proper jaw and dental development. Please follow guidelines from your doc on this.
How can you optimize your baby's oral health during pregnancy?

Did you know your baby’s oral health starts in-utero?


During the beautiful but stressful months of growing your baby, it’s best to focus on taking care of yourself from teeth to toes!


This means, keep in mind your baby’s microbiome is established in-utero, and the mother’s health directly impacts the health of the growing baby.


Focus on the following during pregnancy to set your child up for optimal oral and gut health:

  • Prioritize your sleep (nasal breathing is key)
  • Focus on eating nutrient-dense foods (D3/K2, Omega 3s, and trace minerals are critical)
  • Stay hydrated
  • Brush and floss daily
  • See a dentist regularly while pregnant

Above all, remember: You’re growing a human!


Listen to your body and rest and fuel as needed.

What are the best supplements to support a healthy oral microbiome and optimal oral health?

Doctor Staci’s favorite dietary supplements to support a healthy oral microbiome and optimal oral health include the following:



Excellent for immunity and gum support!

Doctor Staci loves @piquetea Daily Immune Support or @quicksilverscientific.



Our body uses Mg for many normal functions and builds strong teeth and bones. It may also improve your sleep + calm your nervous system. Doctor Staci’s top choices are @magtein and @bioptimizers.



There are a few types of B-Vitamins, but Doctor Staci really likes patients to focus on: B2, B3, B6, and B12.


B-12 supports healthy blood + nerve cells, bone health, and can even help with depression!


B-vitamins help prevent periodontal disease, support gum health, and reduce ulceration outbreaks.


Doctor Staci is partial to @thornehealth, @genestrabrandsca, and @quicksilverscientific.



Responsible for healthy joints, muscles + skin, and healthy gums.


Doctor Staci likes @vitalproteins + @perfectsupplements, and @bewellbykelly.


Bonus: Shop for collagen and use discount code DRSTACI for $5 off.



Probiotics and GI support are great for your gut AND your mouth! Probiotics are made up of good bacteria that keep your oral and gut microbiomes in check and thriving.


Here are Doctor Staci’s favorite brands for kids + adults: @shoporganicolivia, @ionbiome, @microbiomelabs, @hyperbiotics, and @biogaiausa.



They are filled with micronutrients and essential vitamins for whole-body health.


Check out @perfectsupplements.



Mineral drops are excellent for healthy teeth, bones, muscles, and every system in the body. Don’t fear salt!


Consider @tracemineralsresearch, @redmondrealsalt,



Critical for dental and jaw development both in-utero and beyond.


Some of Doctor Staci’s favorite vitamin brands are @pureencapsulations,, @vitalnutrients, and @maryruthorganics.



Packed with Omega 3s, Vitamin A, and Vitamin D, cod liver oil helps gum health and dental development.


Brands matter here! Be careful of rancid oils and inferior extraction processes. Check out, @carlsonlabs, and @nordicnaturals.

What do you mean by “Eat A Rainbow?”

Doctor Staci’s favorite phrase is “Eat A Rainbow!” It’s an easy way to teach kids that foods that are vibrant and colorful and that come from the Earth are generally healthier choices for us. She and her team also talk at great lengths with families on the dangers of food dyes, chemicals, hormone disruptors, antibiotics, and preservatives in foods, as well as avoiding highly processed and acidic foods.


Diet is the key to overall health. Changing what you eat can give your body the essential nutrients and minerals it needs to develop and mineralize teeth and establish optimal oral and gut microbiomes.


Ensure these vitamins and nutrients are in your diet for optimal dental health:

  • Vitamin K2
  • Vitamin D3
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin C
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Vitamins B6, B12
  • Zinc
  • Omega 3s
  • Prebiotics and Probiotics (ideally from foods)

Doctor Staci recommends eating the rainbow, with lots of whole vegetables, fruits, especially berries, as well as grass-fed dairy and meats, nuts and seeds, wild-caught fish, fermented foods, and healthy fats.

Why is snacking bad for your teeth?

Recently, studies have shown that frequent snacking or grazing is a significant source of tooth decay, resulting in enamel erosion and cavities. Snacking continuously throughout the day means your mouth is mostly in an acidic environment. Though our saliva helps to neutralize the effects of the acid once we finish eating, snacking too often can overwhelm the demineralization and remineralization balance, making it more likely for you to experience tooth decay and develop cavities.


Even if they are primary teeth, they play an essential role in your children’s development by helping them chew, speak, have confidence and self-esteem, shape their faces and jaws, and act as placeholders for permanent teeth, which can prevent excessive crowding and orthodontic issues. Snacking smartly and practicing good oral hygiene will help ensure healthy teeth for your children for a lifetime.

What are some tooth-friendly snacks for kids?

Snack smartly by limiting how often children graze, nibble, and sip between meals and select healthier and less cavity-causing snack options. Foods high in refined sugar, refined flour, unhealthy fats and seed oils, food dyes and artificial colors and flavorings, and preservatives can influence and contribute to excessive pathogenic plaque and higher acid levels within the mouth that can disrupt tooth enamel and, over time, can cause cavities and other dental health concerns like gum disease. As a general rule, it is always best to opt for the whole foods route with fresh vegetables and fruits, quality meats and dairy, nuts and seeds, whole grains, and limited processed food and beverage products.


Quality dairy products such as milk and cheeses are excellent sources of calcium which help to build strong and healthy teeth. Cheese is also high in phosphorus, which keeps your children’s enamel strong and removes plaque from the surface of their teeth.


Fruits high in fiber, such as apples, are considered nature’s toothbrushes and help clean your teeth as you chew. Grapes, kiwis, and berries are healthier dessert substitutes and are easy to prepare. Be mindful of certain fruits as they can be higher in sugars and acids. Limit citrus fruits, and certainly do not allow sucking on citrus, as they are high in acids and can erode tooth enamel, lead to cavities, and increase tooth sensitivity and wear.


Crunchy vegetables such as carrots, celery, cucumbers, peppers, broccoli, and leafy greens are the best snacks for oral health. They are high in water content which helps to dilute natural sugars and are also high in fiber, helping stabilize blood sugar and support gut health. Like with fibrous fruits, these snacks will help scrape away harmful bacteria and food debris from your children’s teeth. Also, the crunchiness and need to chew helps develop the face, jaws, and airways.


Yogurt can be an excellent substitute for sugary gelatin or pudding cups. Plain yogurt (ideally grass-fed and finished or a dairy-free version, if needed) without added sugars and flavors is a great snack option and can be used as a base to which you can add your children’s favorite fruits, nut butters, or nuts and seeds. Yogurt also contains probiotic strains, which can help to crowd-out harmful bacteria in your children’s mouths and guts.