Beautiful Smiles are just the beginning!

The Healthy Start System™ is an all-natural, non-pharmaceutical, and non-surgical treatment option delivered exclusively by specially trained dentists. Healthy Start is a series of uniquely designed oral appliances children wear for just a few hours a day and/or during the night while they sleep. These soft, comfortable appliances promote nasal breathing and discourage mouth breathing as they widen the dental arches and help develop the jaw further – just as nature intended.

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The end result of Healthy Start treatment can be a healthy, happy child with a big, beautiful smile full of straight teeth and an airway wide and open for a lifetime of healthy breathing. Dr. Heather Clark is proud to provide the Healthy Start System in Saint Joseph, Missouri.

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Is your child a candidate for Healthy Start?

There are many things about your child’s health that are important to know, but that we often don’t get to see while they’re at our office. There are signs to look for that you may not have known were connected to your child’s teeth or health. By looking for and tracking these “signs and symptoms,” we can have a complete picture of your child’s overall health.  Find our assessment by CLICKING HERE.

You don’t have to spend a lot of time with this assessment tool; just observe their behavior at different times during the day. You want to see their most natural behaviors, so try not to let your child know that you are watching.  Check off what you see. If you’re not sure, check it anyway. Make comments if you’d like!

Does your child exhibit any of these symptoms linked to Sleep Disordered Breathing?

• ADD/ADHD • Dark Circles Under the Eyes

• Bedwetting (enuresis) • Swollen Adenoids/Tonsils

• Chronic Allergies • Aggressive Behavior

• Difficulty in School • Overbite

• Mouth Breathing • Underdeveloped Lower Jaw

• Snoring • Daytime Drowsiness

• Restless Sleep • Crowded/Crooked Teeth

• Stunted Growth • Nightmares


Sleep, Crowded Teeth, and Your Child’s Health: Research Finds the Link

Only in the last 20 years has clinical research established the connection between certain increasingly common childhood health issues and a single likely root cause – Sleep Disordered Breathing (SDB).

The symptoms associated with SDB can vary from one child to the next, but even mild SDB (mouth breathing, crowded teeth, snoring) can point to serious underlying health issues and the need for treatment.

• Pediatric sleep disorders impact a child’s behavioral, cognitive, and physical development, with long-term consequences (Bonuck, Parikh, & Bassila, 2006; Montgomery & Dunne, 2007).

• Children with SDB are 40 to 100 percent more likely to exhibit behavioral and emotional problems, including hyperactivity, anxiety, depression, social issues with peers, and conduct problems, including aggressiveness (Bonuck, 2012).

• Children with cross bites (misaligned upper and lower teeth) are 3.3 times more likely to suffer from SDB, while children with convex facial profiles (i.e. receding chins) are 2.6 times more likely (Finland Study 2013, published in European Journal of Pediatrics).

The research is clear – SDB is the underlying condition that often gives rise to many childhood health issues.

Children with wide, forward dental arches who breathe through their nose sleep better, and children who sleep better perform better in school, behave better, and experience fewer health issues.

Unfortunately, childhood sleep disorders are becoming far more prevalent among our youth, and far too many parents and healthcare providers are unaware of the dire consequences.

The Importance of Your Child’s Airway

The central issue for many children suffering from the effects of SDB is a compromised airway. When a child’s airway is narrow, underdeveloped, or constricted in any way, the child will struggle to get enough oxygen at night and may resort to mouth breathing. Bringing the upper and lower jaws forward while making them wider can help open up the airway of a growing child.

Dangers of Mouth Breathing

Mouth breathing is not the same as nasal breathing and often leads to further compromises in the airway. Mouth breathing is often cited as a contributing factor in a compromised airway, and in patients who require orthodontic treatment. It can also prevent the proper function of the tongue and other orofacial muscles children need to speak, swallow, chew, and function. Mouth breathing can also cause the delicate tissues of the tonsils and adenoids to swell and become enlarged, which can further restrict the airway and thus perpetuate the cycle of needing to mouth breathe.

“We believe elimination of oral breathing, i.e., restoration of nasal breathing during wake and sleep, may be the only valid “finish line” in pediatric sleep disordered breathing.” C. Guilleminault, S. Sullivan, 2014 – Stanford University

The Dental Connection


Many young children with SDB have dental arches that are underdeveloped, narrow, and positioned too far back. A normal human profile should have the lips and chin positioned well in front of the eyes with a strong jawline. Unfortunately, in most cases, such growth and development doesn’t happen on its own.

In our modern world of limited breastfeeding and soft, processed foods, far too many of our children are simply not developing fully in their lower facial areas. If allowed to persist during their formative early years, this condition prevents proper growth and development of a child’s airway.

Early Treatment Is Critical

If these abnormal conditions are left untreated in children, by the time they are fully grown, there is little that can be done to correct them.


All too often, teeth become overly crowded and extractions are prescribed, followed by years of braces. Eventually, many of these children will grow into adults with SDB, who may eventually require CPAP machines to obtain the oxygen they need at night – all because their airways were never allowed to fully develop.

“Our 11 year old son wet the bed 3-4 nights a week. We started treatment in Healthy Start mainly to avoid braces. After just one week, the bedwetting stopped completely. After 8 or 9 months, his teeth were perfectly straight. Amazing!” – Karen H.

By expanding the entire anatomy of the upper and lower jaws, the airway can expand and develop to its full potential. If treatment intervention occurs during a child’s critical growing years, many of the symptoms associated with SDB greatly diminish or simply disappear.

Conventional Treatment Options

Before now, treatment options have been limited and ineffective, mainly because they address symptoms rather than the potential root cause.


Prescription drugs, surgery, clinical therapy, academic tutors, sleep aids, and years in metal braces have been the most commonly prescribed “solutions.” Yet none of these conventional treatments can promote or develop a child’s airway and help them get the oxygen and sleep they need to thrive.

A Better Way to Help Your Child

In the late 1960’s, Dr. Earl O. Bergersen, an orthodontist from Chicago, developed a novel way of straightening teeth using comfortable oral appliances.

Since that time, his breakthrough has proven very effective in creating big beautiful smiles in over 3,000,000 cases around the world. Today’s modern version of those appliances comprises what is known as the Healthy Start system.

Healthy Start is about far more than straight teeth. The most important feature of the Healthy Start system is that it can help develop and widen a child’s airway, allowing many children the opportunity to get the oxygen and deep sleep their growing bodies require.

We are always available to talk with you and address your concerns. Please feel free to contact us during the following hours through our office phone number or e-mail address. After hours, you may contact us through our answering service.

Monday: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Tuesday:  9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Wednesday:  8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Thursday:  8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Friday: 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Clark Family Dentistry

1331 Village Dr.

St. Joseph, MO 64506

Map & Directions

Phone: (816) 232-1444

E-mail: admin@clarkfamilysmiles.com

*If you need to cancel your appointment, please contact us by phone. Cancellations will not be accepted by e-mail.