What is Functional Dentistry?

Functional dentistry is when a dentist searches for the underlying causes of a patient’s symptoms.

Functional dentists investigate chronic (ongoing) pain by checking their patients’ teeth, nerves, muscles, jaws, airway, breathing, sleeping habits and more.

A good example of chronic pain is excessive teeth grinding or jaw clenching. A conventional dentist might give a patient a night guard to wear while sleeping. However, if the patient has sleep apnea (not getting enough oxygen while sleeping), a night guard could partially block the patient’s airway and actually make a bad situation worse.

If left untreated, excessive teeth grinding or jaw clenching can lead to painful TMJ (temporo-mandibular joint). This searing pain happens where the jaw meets the skull. Studies have found that different types of nerve problems have been linked to TMJ.

A functional dentist will search for the causes of the teeth grinding and jaw clenching by going the extra mile and checking the patient’s medical history, present medical condition, current medications, X-Rays, and blood tests. Once the cause is discovered, the problem can be correctly treated and prevented from happening again.