Functional dentistry focusses on understanding the underlying root cause of a patient’s signs and symptoms. The term does not imply alternative dentistry. It is evidence based dental medicine. Whilst much of dentistry today is focused purely on teeth, functional dentists (or oral physicians) understand the mechanisms behind facial pain, chronic illness and systemic imbalance at a much deeper level.
The connection between airway, breathing, sleep, TMD and craniofacial pain is well documented. In 1977, Dr A. Fonder published a book called “The Dental Physician”. Ahead of its time, this book outlined how an impaired mouth had drastic implications on general health. He coined the term dental distress syndrome.
In order to really understand what Dr Fonder was describing, I’ve honed my knowledge of anatomy, neuroanatomy, neurophysiology and biochemistry. The trigeminal nerve, its trigeminocervical complex and the trigeminovascular system are major pathways that connect the mouth to the rest of the body.
I now understand why inadequate development of the jaw bones leads to compensations in function. When we don’t function as well as we should, this prolonged compensation results in pathological physiology that causes chronic imbalance and the development of debilitating chronic diseases.
Functional dentistry uses this understanding to develop a treatment plan that re-establishes an appropriate oral environment for:
With this environment restored, quality sleep returns, breathing is functional and the body is in balance.
Read more below.