Breastfeeding Leads to Proper Oral Muscle Development
Breastfeeding the child for a year or more helps properly develop the oral muscles and jawbone. This is due to muscle activity and tongue placement that places pressure and tension on the muscles and jawbones.
As a result, the jaws grow optimally in a U shape with greater room for teeth. This lowers the risk of poor tooth alignment and minimizes orthodontic therapy needed later in life. Another result is a more open airway, which improves oxygen flow and nasal breathing. This lowers the risk of obstructive sleep apnea in childhood and adulthood. Breastfeeding also leads to better upper and lower jaw alignment for a facial profile that is more aesthetic.
“We recommend that you not give your baby a pacifier,” says Dr. Jorge Torres, one of the pediatric dental specialists at Pediatric Dentistry of Brandon, FL. “Sucking on a pacifier, a thumb, or fingers puts downward pressure on the tongue and backward pressure on the jaw. During the critical months of infant and early childhood development, this can lead to a v-shaped upper jaw and retracted lower jaw, which requires special orthodontic therapy to correct. Breastfeeding does the opposite. The infant’s lower jaw moves outward, up and down, and the tongue travels with the jaw, exerting upward pressure.”
“Also, please note,” says Dr. Torres, “that parents need to make sure baby teeth are cleaned properly after breastfeeding. When children continue breastfeeding after teeth have erupted, those teeth are at risk of decay when the teeth are not cleaned, especially at naptime or bedtime. We help the parents of our patients find a way to balance breastfeeding with teeth cleaning, in order to prevent development of decay and childhood caries.”