Functional Dentistry

Or call 540-886-1979


601 Greenville Avenue

Staunton, VA 24401

What is Functional Dentistry?

Dr. Jesse Myers is bringing to the Shenandoah Valley a particular way of practicing dentistry called 'Functional Dentistry'. 

He was recently featured on Ask The Dentist’s podcast discussing functional medicine topics like “How the Oral microbiome Affects Gum Health”, which can be listened to here or played down below.

Functional Dentistry is a comprehensive way of practicing medicine that integrates lifestyle modifications and food as medicine into contemporary dentistry. As Hippocrates once said, “Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food.” 

Through the study of epigenetics, the human microbiome, and nutritional science we have a sophisticated and comprehensive understanding of how lifestyle and nutrition are vital to health. Most diseases of the mouth are due to poor lifestyle habits and nutrition. Incorporating this knowledge into practice has the capacity to facilitate resilient health and regenerative healing for chronic inflammatory diseases.

From Dr. Myers: "The mouth is the gateway to the rest of the interconnected human body. Through this portal, we will see that at the pinnacle of health is oral health. This is because the mouth is the perfect mirror and reflector of what is happening internally in the human body. The most prevalent chronic human diseases experienced globally are found in the mouth. Diseases like cavities and gum diseases carry major economic and serious health burdens. As a physician of the mouth, I oftentimes see the first signs of these downstream issues. Other chronic diseases are caused or exacerbated by pathogenic oral bacteria. What is healthy for your teeth is healthy for the rest of the body. One of the best decisions you can make for your life is filtering your lifestyle decisions through the lens that Complete Whole Body Health starts in the mouth."

Call today or book online to schedule a consult with Dr. Myers for functional dentistry. 

Oral Microbiome: The Missing Health Link?

Featuring Dr. Jesse Myers, Joel Salatin & Sina McCullough, Ph.D

Check out Dr. Jesse Myers' interview with Joel Salatin and Sina McCullough, Ph.D as they chat about one of the most overlooked aspects of health - the mouth. Research shows that imbalances in the mouth are associated with chronic and autoimmune diseases, such as: diabetes, Alzheimers, cancer, and osteoporosis. Fortunately, a new era of dentistry has arrived - functional dentistry, where the practitioner considers the whole body and can diagnose nutrient deficiencies and microbiome imbalances simply by examining the mouth and tongue!

Functional and Whole Body Dentistry

Featuring Dr. Jesse Myers, Dr. John Gildea & David Roberts

Check out Dr. Jesse Myers' interview with Dr. John Gildea & David Roberts as they discuss a wide variety of topics including root canals, oral microbiome, fluoride, his favorite toothpaste, and how oral health impacts Alzheimer's disease.

How Does Oral Microbiome Affect Gum Health?

Featuring Dr. Jesse Myers

Key Points From This Episode:

  • The oral microbiome gives you a richer, more nuanced understanding of oral health
  • Hear about a journal article in The Journal of Dentistry
  • It is not one bug that causes gum disease; it’s an imbalance of the trillions of bacteria
  • What causes bacteria to go from commensal to pathogenic
  • Why we need dental microbiome researchers and degrees
  • It’s all about the oral microbiome

Comprehensive Guide to Functional Dentistry:

Everything You Need to Know

What makes Functional Dentistry Different than Traditional Dentistry?

Functional dentistry, sometimes referred to as whole-body dentistry, holistic or integrative dentistry (though at our office, we prefer "functional") is an approach to dental care that considers the relationship between oral health and overall well-being. It emphasizes a more comprehensive view of dentistry, taking into account not only the teeth and gums but also their connection to the entire body. Here are some key aspects of functional dentistry:

  • Whole-Body Perspective: Functional dentistry recognizes that oral health is interconnected with the health of the entire body. It takes into consideration how dental issues or treatments can impact a person's overall health and vice versa.
  • Preventive Approach: Like traditional dentistry, functional dentistry focuses on preventive care, including regular check-ups, cleanings, and patient education. However, it also emphasizes the prevention of dental issues' potential systemic effects.
  • Biocompatible Materials: Functional dentists often prioritize the use of biocompatible materials for dental restorations, such as fillings and crowns. They may consider a patient's individual sensitivities or allergies to certain substances.
  • Mercury-Free Dentistry: Many functional dentists, such as Dr. Myers, avoid the use of dental amalgam (silver fillings) due to concerns about mercury exposure. They may offer mercury-free alternatives for dental restorations.
  • Nutrition and Lifestyle: Functional dentistry recognizes the role of nutrition and lifestyle in oral health. Dentists in this field may provide guidance on dietary choices that promote healthy teeth and gums.
  • Airway Health: Some functional dentists focus on evaluating and addressing issues related to airway health, including obstructive sleep apnea and breathing problems. They may offer treatments such as oral appliances to improve breathing during sleep. Though Dr. Myers does not currently counsel on airway health, he is happy to refer you to a knowledgable airway health specialist.
  • Collaborative Care: Functional dentists often work in collaboration with other healthcare professionals, such as naturopathic doctors, nutritionists, and holistic practitioners, to address patients' comprehensive health needs.
  • Patient-Centered Care: Functional dentistry places a strong emphasis on patient education and involvement in treatment decisions. Dentists in this field aim to empower patients to take an active role in their oral and overall health.

Is Functional Dentistry Evidence-Based?

Dr. Myers adheres to a patient-centered approach in dental care, emphasizing practices that are rooted in current scientific literature and have been demonstrated as safe and effective for both oral health and whole-body health. These evidence-based practices are selected based on their established track record and alignment with comprehensive well-being. While functional dentistry may encompass a wide range of approaches, Dr. Myers prioritizes those that are supported by robust scientific evidence, ensuring that patients receive care that is founded on sound research and safety principles.

What are the Potential Health Benefits of Pursuing Functional Dentistry?

While it's important to acknowledge that individual experiences can differ, and no definitive guarantees are made regarding the impact of functional dentistry on one's health, it's widely recognized that many individuals can potentially derive numerous benefits from this approach that extend beyond traditional dental care. Here are some potential health advantages associated with embracing functional dentistry:

  • Whole-Body Approach: Functional dentistry takes a whole-body perspective, recognizing the interconnectedness of oral health with overall well-being. This approach can lead to a better understanding of how dental health impacts and reflects the health of the entire body.
  • Preventive Emphasis: Functional dentistry places a strong emphasis on preventive care, including regular check-ups, cleanings, and patient education. This proactive approach can help identify and address dental issues early, potentially preventing more extensive problems.
  • Biocompatible Materials: Some functional dentists prioritize the use of biocompatible materials for dental restorations, reducing the risk of adverse reactions and sensitivities. This approach is particularly beneficial for individuals with sensitivities or allergies.
  • Nutritional Guidance: Functional dentistry often includes guidance on nutrition and lifestyle choices that support optimal oral and overall health. Patients can receive advice on dietary choices that promote healthy teeth and gums.
  • Collaborative Care: Functional dentists may collaborate with other healthcare professionals, such as naturopathic doctors and nutritionists, to address patients' comprehensive health needs. This multidisciplinary approach can result in well-rounded care.
  • Individualized Care: Functional dentistry is patient-centered, focusing on individualized treatment plans that consider a person's unique health goals, sensitivities, and concerns. Patients play an active role in their care decisions.
  • Reduced Exposure to Harmful Substances: By avoiding materials like dental amalgam (silver fillings) that contain mercury, functional dentistry can reduce potential exposure to harmful substances.
  • Improved Quality of Life: Addressing oral health issues and aligning them with overall well-being can lead to an improved quality of life. Patients may experience better oral comfort, improved sleep, and enhanced overall health and vitality.
  • Aesthetic and Functional Benefits: Functional dentistry also focuses on optimizing dental aesthetics and function, enhancing both the appearance of the smile and its ability to function correctly.

Do Functional Dentists use Different Materials for Dental Restorations, and why?

Functional dentists often prioritize the use of alternative materials for dental restorations rather than traditional dental amalgam (silver fillings). This preference is based on several reasons, and it reflects the whole-body approach of functional dentistry to promote both oral and overall health. Let's delve into the key reasons why functional dentists typically avoid amalgam fillings:

  • Mercury Content: Dental amalgam fillings, also known as silver fillings, contain approximately 50% elemental mercury by weight. While dental amalgam has been used for over a century and is considered safe by many dental authorities, the presence of mercury is a significant concern for some individuals. Mercury is a toxic element that can vaporize at room temperature and be inhaled or absorbed into the body.
  • Biocompatibility: Functional dentists prioritize materials that are biocompatible, meaning they are less likely to trigger adverse reactions or sensitivities in patients. Some individuals may be more susceptible to mercury exposure or have sensitivities to the other metals present in amalgam, such as silver, tin, and copper.
  • Aesthetic Concerns: Amalgam fillings are silver in color, which can be visually unappealing, especially when they are used for restorations in visible areas of the mouth. Functional dentistry often seeks to provide restorations that are not only functional but also aesthetically pleasing, using tooth-colored materials like composite resin or ceramics.
  • Minimally Invasive Approach: Functional dentistry emphasizes minimally invasive dental procedures whenever possible. Tooth-colored materials like composite resin allow for more conservative tooth preparations, preserving more natural tooth structure compared to amalgam, which may require more extensive tooth removal for placement.
  • Environmental Considerations: Some functional dentists take environmental concerns into account. Dental amalgam contains mercury, which, when not properly managed, can pose environmental risks when disposed of in wastewater.
  • Patient Choice: Functional dentists often prioritize patient choice and informed decision-making. They discuss treatment options with patients and consider their preferences, including concerns related to amalgam fillings.

It's important to note that the safety of dental amalgam has been a subject of ongoing debate within the dental and medical communities. While many dental authorities, including the American Dental Association (ADA) and the World Health Organization (WHO), maintain that dental amalgam is safe for most patients, the potential risks associated with mercury exposure have led some dentists and patients to seek alternative materials. Functional dentists can offer a range of restorative materials, such as composite resin, porcelain, and ceramics, to address patients' dental needs while considering their health preferences and concerns.

How does Functional Dentistry Address the Connection Between Oral Health and Systemic Health?

Functional dentistry addresses the connection between oral health and systemic health by recognizing that the mouth is not isolated from the rest of the body; it is an integral part of the body's overall health and well-being. This approach emphasizes the interplay between oral health and various systemic conditions, and it leverages the understanding of this connection to provide more whole-body and patient-centered care. The oral microbiome plays a crucial role in this relationship. Here's how functional dentistry addresses these aspects:

  • Oral-Systemic Connection: Functional dentistry acknowledges that oral health can impact systemic health and vice versa. For example, chronic gum disease (periodontitis) has been associated with an increased risk of certain systemic conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory diseases. By addressing oral health issues, functional dentists aim to contribute positively to a patient's overall health.
  • Inflammation and Immunity: Chronic inflammation in the mouth, such as that caused by gum disease, can trigger a systemic inflammatory response. Functional dentists work to reduce oral inflammation and support the body's immune system, recognizing that chronic inflammation is linked to a range of health problems.
  • Microbiome Assessment: The oral microbiome, the diverse community of microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc.) in the mouth, plays a pivotal role in oral and systemic health. Functional dentists may assess the oral microbiome to understand its composition and balance. Dysbiosis, or an imbalance in the microbiome, can contribute to oral and systemic health issues.
  • Gut-Oral Axis: Emerging research suggests a connection between the oral microbiome and the gut microbiome. Functional dentists may consider the gut-oral axis and its potential impact on overall health. A healthy gut and oral microbiome can contribute to better digestion, absorption of nutrients, and immune function.
  • Nutrition and Microbiome Health: Functional dentists often provide guidance on nutrition and dietary choices that promote a healthy oral and gut microbiome. A balanced diet rich in fiber, prebiotics, and probiotics can support microbiome diversity and overall health.
  • Individualized Care: Functional dentistry takes an individualized approach, recognizing that each person's microbiome and health needs are unique. Dentists work with patients to create personalized treatment plans that address their specific oral and systemic health concerns.
  • Collaboration with Healthcare Providers: Functional dentists may collaborate with other healthcare providers, such as physicians and naturopathic doctors, to address systemic health issues that may have oral manifestations or vice versa. This multidisciplinary approach supports comprehensive patient care.
  • Patient Education: Functional dentists empower patients with knowledge about the oral-systemic connection and the importance of maintaining good oral health for overall well-being. Patients are encouraged to take an active role in their health.

Functional dentistry's focus on the oral-systemic connection and the role of the microbiome reflects a broader shift in healthcare toward a more whole-body and patient-centered approach. By addressing oral health in the context of overall health, functional dentistry aims to improve not only smiles but also the quality of life and systemic health of patients.

How can Nutrition and Lifestyle Choices Impact my Oral Health?

Nutrition and lifestyle choices have a profound impact on oral health, and their influence extends to the delicate balance of the oral microbiome. Here's how nutrition and lifestyle can affect both oral health and the oral microbiome:

  • Dietary Choices:
  • Sugar Consumption: Excessive sugar intake, particularly from sugary snacks and beverages, can feed harmful oral bacteria, leading to acid production and tooth decay. Limiting sugar intake (and replacing, when needed, with alternatives such as erythritol and monkfruit sweetener) helps maintain a healthier oral microbiome.
  • Balanced Diet: A well-balanced diet rich in fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, & K), anti-oxidants, and probiotics are recommended for optimal oral health. These foods provide essential nutrients and support gum health, bolster the immune system, and help maintain a balanced oral microbiome.
  • Hydration:
  • Drinking plenty of water helps maintain proper saliva production. Saliva contains beneficial compounds that neutralize acids, remineralize teeth, and contribute to a balanced oral microbiome. It is important to note though that Dr. Myers highly recommends using a filter such as the Berkey Water Filter, and never recommends drinking straight from the tap.
  • Oral Hygiene Practices:
  • Brushing and Flossing: Consistent brushing and flossing remove food particles and plaque, preventing the overgrowth of harmful bacteria and maintaining a healthier oral microbiome.
  • Avoiding Overuse of Antimicrobial Products: Overuse of antimicrobial mouthwash can disrupt the oral microbiome by killing beneficial bacteria along with harmful ones. Functional dentistry often promotes the judicious use of these products.
  • Smoking and Tobacco Use:
  • Smoking and tobacco use are associated with an increased risk of gum disease, tooth decay, and oral cancer. They can disrupt the oral microbiome, favoring harmful bacteria.
  • Stress Management:
  • Chronic stress can contribute to oral health problems, including teeth grinding (bruxism) and canker sores. Stress reduction strategies can help maintain a balanced oral microbiome.
  • Alcohol Consumption:
  • Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to dry mouth (xerostomia), reducing saliva production. Saliva plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy oral microbiome. Moderation is key.
  • Sleep Habits:
  • Poor sleep quality and untreated sleep apnea can disrupt the balance of oral bacteria and lead to oral health issues. Functional dentistry may address these sleep-related concerns to promote both oral and systemic health.
  • Probiotics and Prebiotics:
  • Incorporating probiotics (beneficial bacteria) and prebiotics (substances that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria) into your diet can positively influence the oral microbiome. These can help maintain microbial balance and support gum health.
  • Alcohol-Free Mouthwash:
  • When using mouthwash, choosing alcohol-free options can help preserve the oral microbiome, as alcohol-based mouthwashes can be harsh on beneficial bacteria.
  • Regular Dental Check-ups:
  • Regular dental check-ups provide an opportunity for dental professionals to assess your oral health, including the state of your oral microbiome. They can offer personalized guidance on nutrition and lifestyle choices that align with your oral health goals.

In summary, nutrition and lifestyle choices significantly impact oral health by influencing the composition and balance of the oral microbiome. A balanced oral microbiome is essential for preventing oral health problems and supporting overall well-being. Functional dentistry often provides guidance on making choices that optimize both oral and systemic health.

Is Functional Dentistry Suitable for Children and Teenagers, or is it Primarily for Adults?

Functional dentistry is suitable for individuals of all ages, including children, teenagers, and adults. This whole-body approach to dental care is not limited by age but is rather focused on providing comprehensive and patient-centered oral healthcare to people throughout their lives. Here's how functional dentistry can benefit different age groups:

  • Children:
  • Functional dentistry can be especially beneficial for children as it emphasizes preventive care and patient education. Teaching children proper oral hygiene habits, the importance of a balanced diet, and regular dental check-ups sets the foundation for a lifetime of good oral health.
  • Functional dentists often recommend minimally invasive treatments, such as dental sealants, to protect children's teeth from cavities.
  • Assessment of airway health in children can identify issues like mouth breathing or sleep-related breathing disorders early, allowing for timely intervention.
  • Teenagers:
  • Adolescents can benefit from functional dentistry by learning about the impact of their lifestyle choices, including diet and tobacco use, on their oral health.
  • Functional dentists can address orthodontic concerns and offer treatments that not only improve aesthetics but also correct bite and jaw alignment issues, contributing to overall health and comfort.
  • Teenagers experiencing stress-related dental problems, like teeth grinding or TMJ disorders, can receive guidance on stress management techniques.
  • Adults:
  • Functional dentistry is well-suited for adults seeking an intergrative approach to oral healthcare. It offers individualized treatment plans that consider a person's unique health goals and needs.
  • Adults can benefit from nutritional guidance, especially if they have specific dietary concerns or conditions that affect oral health, such as diabetes.
  • Airway assessment and treatments for sleep-related breathing disorders can be particularly relevant for adults who may be experiencing sleep apnea or other airway issues.
  • Biocompatible materials and minimally invasive restorative options are available to address dental concerns while considering overall health.
  • Seniors:
  • Functional dentistry is also valuable for seniors who may have age-related oral health challenges, such as dry mouth, gum disease, or tooth loss.
  • Denture wearers can benefit from functional dentistry's focus on providing comfortable and functional prosthetic solutions.
  • Ongoing care and monitoring of oral health are essential for seniors to maintain overall health and quality of life.

In summary, functional dentistry is inclusive and adaptable to individuals of all ages. It offers age-specific guidance and treatments to address oral health issues while considering their potential impact on overall well-being. The whole-body and patient-centered approach of functional dentistry makes it a suitable choice for anyone looking to prioritize their oral and systemic health.

Is Functional Dentistry Right for You?

Ready to take the first step in achieving whole-body health? Dr. Myers is happy to assist you in evaluating your oral microbiome and engaging in a conversation about your health objectives. Contact Dr. Jesse Myers & Dr. Alan J. White's office at 540-886-1979 in Staunton, VA, and our dedicated team will assist you promptly. Alternatively, you can fill out our online appointment request form at the bottom of this page at your convenience.

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Mara Labs, Curcumin & Whole-Body Dentistry Interview
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"After years of traumatic dentist encounters, which led me to avoiding the dentist for many years... I am so happy I found this practice. I am very holistic in my lifestyle, and felt very supported in my choices by Dr. Myers and the staff. Dr. Myers is kind and knowledgeable and McKenna and Megan were also very gentle and compassionate. I am finally back on track with my dental health and will be back on a regular schedule of cleanings and visits. Also, the office itself is very nicely done with lots of windows, which makes it pleasant. Would highly recommend this practice." - Susan

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