START AT 3
I have been asked umpteen number of times on why I am an aberrant promoter of breastfeeding, when my primary profession is about teeth? Being a Preventive Pediatric dentist, I play a major role in optimising growth and development of the craniofacial complex in children (head and neck). One of the main work is to guide and monitor how the face grows. A healthy face should always grow downward and forward and wider. This will help the children have naturally straight teeth and healthy breathing and cavity free mouth.
The first exercise the infant does to stimulate the forward and wider growth of face is breastfeeding. The process of which is biodynamic stimulating the muscular system. However what happens if the child feeds from bottle?
Sucking from breast is like a vacuum formation and expressing milk, however it isn’t so with bottles. Transferring milk from bottles just needs suction of the cheek muscles. The same holds good for Sippy cups and pacifiers too.
The process thus leads to soft tissue dysfunction at much early stage. The following happens when bottles , Sippy cups or pacifiers are introduced
1. The tongue is pushed down and out , (but in breastfeeding it will be pushed up against the palate, refer pic below). This leads to collapsing of the upper jaw and narrowing of the lower jaw which tremendously increases the risk of mouthbreathing.
2. The cheek muscles are hyper activated and this leads to pressure on the upper jaw making it narrow and increasing the breathing disorders risk.
3. The child starts using facial muscles to swallow which normally isn’t involved this hyperactivates the muscles thereby pushing the jaws to grow downward and backward. This In turn increases the risk of developing snoring and sleep disordered breathing in future , predisposing the child to Pediatric obstructive sleep apnea ( PoSA).
What to do?
Simple!!! exclusive, non-compensated, extended, breastfeeding at least upto 2 years of age. Then shift to cups. Sippy cups or bottles does the same harm mentioned above even if introduced after 2 years of breastfeeding. Do not introduce bottles, Sippy cups or pacifiers. If the child seems to be comfortable only with pacifiers please consult a preventive Pediatric dentist with expertise in tongue tie and airway or a Lactation consultant immediately.
What if breastfeeding was difficult?
If you have to give formula, fed from the breast and not in bottle , Lactation consultants can help you with this. Feeding tubes attached to breast and the child is allowed to feed formula from the breast.
What if bottles, Sippy cups or pacifiers are already introduced?
By the age of 3 consult with preventive pediatric dentist trained in orofacial myofunctional therapy. They can guide the jaws with exercises to grow optimally. Thereby decreasing the risk of breathing disorders and crooked teeth.
Preventive Pediatric Dentist
Founder of WE LITTLE