Functional Pediatric Dentistry has grown in popularity in recent years, as parents are looking for alternatives to traditional dentistry. While Functional Dentistry may begin with traditional, routine dental examinations and cleanings, Functional Dentists take the exam process a step further. They examine the root cause of any oral issue a child may be experiencing and offer functional treatment options to address any underlying conditions.
In Functional Dentistry, the primary focus is on helping children develop healthy habits, including proper dental hygiene, a healthy diet, and a healthy lifestyle. Functional Dentists help children combat many common dental problems such as cavities, gum disease, bad breath, and any other issues affecting their physical, emotional, and spiritual health, as oral health affects the whole-body. Ultimately, the goal is to help every child experience life to the fullest with a healthy body and a healthy smile.
Functional Pediatric Dental Consult
During a child’s consultation, the Functional Dentist asks parents questions about the child’s diet, sleep, and lifestyle habits. It is essential to look beyond just poor dental hygiene practices as the cause of oral health problems.
Here are some example questions you may be asked:
- How much of your child’s diet is composed of foods with lots of added sugars? Fermentable carbs and flours? Ultra-processed foods? Acidic foods? Food dyes, additives, preservatives, emulsifiers, etc.?
- Does your child ever sip on juice or nibble on sticky snacks for long periods of time (20 minutes or more)?
- How would you describe your child’s birth? Was breastfeeding successful? How were foods first introduced?
- How would you describe your child’s first few years of life? Any toxin exposures? Chronic illness or antibiotic use? Hospitalizations or surgeries?
- Does your child breathe primarily through his or her nose or through the mouth?
- Does your child grind, snore, toss and turn, bed wet, noisy breathe, or have other signs or symptoms of sleep-disordered breathing?
- Are there other underlying issues such as digestive or food sensitivities that may be affecting the oral microbiome?
- Does your child have any prolonged habits like using a pacifier, sucking on a thumb or fingers, biting nails, etc?
- Are there any food allergies or sensitivities that may be causing or exacerbating issues in the mouth and beyond?
- Are there any products in your home that subject your child to toxin exposure? If so, what can be done to clean your home to reduce toxin exposures?
- What are your child’s (and your) past medical and dental experiences? Is there trauma and distrust that may be preventing you from ultimate health?
Following this Q&A session, the Functional Dentist conducts a physical exam of the child’s oral structures for proper function and growth. If any issues are identified, the dentist recommends early intervention to prevent those issues from reoccurring or offers strategies to heal and reverse such issues.
How Traditional Dentistry Differs from Functional Dentistry
Traditional dentistry differs from Functional Dentistry in several ways, including philosophy, treatment, and materials used.
Traditional dentistry focuses solely on dental health, diagnosing and treating problems that affect the teeth, gums, jaws, and head and neck areas affected by the mouth. More “end-stage disease.” Conversely, Functional Dentistry focuses on the entire person (whole-body) when treating dental problems, as all areas of health are connected–the physical, the emotional, and the spiritual. Functional Dentists attempt to resolve issues in the least invasive ways possible with minimal intervention that support the body’s innate ability to heal.
In traditional dentistry, conventional treatments include deep cleanings, root canals, fillings, and prescriptions. In Functional Dentistry, treatments include variations of these methods and alternative treatments such as nutritional education, Ayurvedic and Chinese Medicine, aromatherapy, herbology, homeopathy, spiritual healing, hypnosis, and electroacupuncture.
Functional Dentists do not use amalgam for fillings because these fillings contain mercury, which is considered harmful to the human body. Instead, they use biocompatible or biomimetic materials for dental restorations and minimally invasive technologies like ozone gas therapy and laser dentistry, all while supporting normal biological systems.
Functional Dentists also do not recommend fluoride treatments or toothpaste because they believe too much systemic fluoride can have serious side effects, especially in kids. Research has shown that fluoride exposure can lead to symptoms of lowered IQ, ADHD, tooth discoloration or dental fluorosis, and altered sleep patterns. Alternatively, most Functional Dentists recommend that you give your children toothpaste with hydroxyapatite, a mineral that makes up 97 percent of your dental enamel already! Unlike fluoride, it is safe to swallow and studies have shown that it works just as well.
Benefits of Functional Pediatric Dentistry
Functional Pediatric Dentistry offers several benefits for children and may appeal to parents because Functional Dentistry promotes the use of
- Natural Remedies
- Biocompatible Materials (avoid mercury and fluoride)
- Whole-Health Treatment
- Alternative Therapies
Functional Dentists also provide nutritional and lifestyle counseling to aid your child’s quest for improved oral health, a more balanced, nutritious diet, and a healthier lifestyle.
In addition to providing comprehensive care, Functional Dentists strive to provide natural methods to ensure the safety and effectiveness of treatment. Some conventional treatment methods heavily rely on medications and substances that are not always ideal for the “whole body” approach. Rest assured that Functional Dentists will always recommend the most natural treatment options with your child’s overall health in mind without sacrificing the quality of his or her dental care.
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