I recently completed introductory courses in Functional Medicine and Functional Nutrition through the Institute for Functional Medicine. Through the knowledge that I have gained, I truly believe that this is the approach that we need to adopt when approaching Oral Health as well. I plan on beginning training in the near future to become an Institute for Functional Medicine Certified Practitioner so that I can begin practicing Functional Oral Health as a branch of Functional Medicine.
Long disillusioned by my own journey with the allopathic, reductionist model of “disease management”, I have spent over 15 years searching for an approach that resonates with how I wish to be treated. Finally, after years of searching, I have found it.
What is Functional Medicine?
Taken directly from the institute’s website:
“Functional Medicine addresses the underlying causes of disease, using a systems-oriented approach and engaging both patient and practitioner in a therapeutic partnership”.
Why do we need to explore the Functional Medicine approach to all aspects of health?
“Unfortunately, the acute-care approach to medicine is ill equipped to address complex, chronic disease. In most cases, the model does not take into account the unique genetic makeup of each individual and does not allow time for exploring the aspects of today’s lifestyle that have a direct influence on the rise in chronic disease in modern Western society; critical environmental factors such as stress, diet, and exposure to toxin”.
I no longer believe that oral disease is simply a result of not brushing, flossing, avoiding sugar and fluoride!
The research that I have done independently, coupled with the practical knowledge that I have accumulated from over 35 years in clinical practice have led me to believe that there is so much more going on here! As healthcare professionals, we owe it to the public to address the whole person, not just an isolated set of symptoms.
I have seen the clients who in a six-month period developed six or more cavities and nothing in their homecare and diet had apparently changed. But something did and I now realize that given time, asking the right questions and doing a number of tests, together we can figure it out!
Since a Google Search did not bring up anything under “Functional Oral Health”, I suspect that few dental professionals have yet to go down this road. However, since “America’s Top Hospital”, the Cleveland Clinic has recently opened The Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, I suspect that this will change as healthcare continues to evolve and meet the needs of the 21st century.
The oral/systemic link involves so much more than we realize and once we have the courage to take the blinders off of our reductionist approach to oral health I believe that we will, in collaboration with our patients and other practitioners, find a new and exciting collaborative approach to helping our patients heal.
Until next time,