breastfeeding link

The link between Breastfeeding and Orofacial Development

breastfeeding linkThousand Oaks, Agoura Hills and Westlake Village, CA

We have long since discovered medical evidence supporting the significance of breastfeeding. It helps build your baby’s immunity, provide them with necessary nutrients to ward off infections, make them less susceptible to ear infections, asthma, and obesity. While there are many other health benefits to breastfeeding your baby, the holistic dentists in Westlake Village at Integrative Dental Arts want to take this topic a step further.

Breastfeeding has a lot to do with how your child’s face, dental arch, and airway develop. Let’s take a more in-depth look at this correlation.

Breastfeeding in the Western culture has become less prevalent than in past decades. Due to this, babies rely on nonnutritive suckling like using a pacifier or sucking on his or her thumbs or fingers. Surprisingly, this common habit among babies here in the U.S. is nearly nonexistent in primitive societies where breastfeeding continues for 3-4 years.

Due to the early weaning age of most babies, they typically are fed mushy baby food, which teaches the child to crush food using his or her tongue. This often results in a dislike for solid foods. You may have wondered why your toddler has such a difficult time with chewy foods. This lack of facial and tongue usage associated with mastication or chewing solid food, results in an underdeveloped maxillary or upper jaw. The tongue rests low in the mouth, with the teeth and lips separated. This lack of force from the tongue against the roof of the mouth results in a narrow upper palate, as well as a narrow airway. Cases such as this often are referred to the child having an open mouth posture that results in mouth breathing.

In an ideal world, mothers could breast feed their babies until age one, or longer if possible, only introducing solid food once the molars have emerged. The idea that babies have to start with mushy baby food, or baby food from a pouch does not support the healthy growth of a baby, their jaw, airway, or face! There are many health consequences as a result of this ideology, and the lack of breastfeeding of babies in our society. Let’s take a look at a few.

Open mouth posture, with the lips and teeth separated and the tongue resting low in the mouth, will lead to a narrow dental arch, and the development of a long and narrow face. Often, children with this orofacial disorder also exhibit dark circles under their eyes, and eyes that appear to look tired and unrested. This is because they aren’t getting enough air into their bodies! Just like food and water, air is necessary to survive. Depriving the body of sufficient oxygen levels would be like trying to live on an insufficient amount of calories each day! What do you think would happen to your body if you tried that? It wouldn’t be healthy, and it wouldn’t look healthy either.

It’s important that everyone, especially developing children receive enough air to reduce their risk of obstructive sleep apnea, certain diseases like hypertension, stroke, and diabetes, as well as certain types of cancers.

If your child exhibits open mouth posture or mouth breathing, please contact Integrative Dental Arts for an evaluation. We offer simple, pain-free solutions to correcting this orofacial disorder so that your child can live a healthy life. To learn more about our program, or to schedule an evaluation, please contact us at (818) 889-0400.

Integrative Dental Arts provides holistic oral care to patients of Agoura Hills and Westlake Village in southern California.