Childhood is one of the most important part in your life and the development of your entire body can be influenced during this time. This also includes the development of your teeth.
According to some statistics more than 25% children will require braces or other form of orthodontic treatment during childhood. The need for some orthodontic treatment can be avoided or even minimized through breastfeeding.
We all know that breastfeeding is really good for the child’s development. It can boost the child’s immune system, prevent obesity and provide many other benefits.
According to the research done in the past few decades, breastfeeding can also reduce the need for braces because it can influence healthier growth of teeth.
Many children are breastfed only for 6 months and some of them are not exclusively breastfeed. This is about 37-58%.
How can breastfeeding influence jaw development?
The unique way the tongue presses against the soft palate in the mount is the main mechanism how breastfeeding can improve and impact jaw development. While breastfeeding, babies use a thrust motion with their tongue, press it against the soft palate and down against their front teeth.
Since baby’s soft palate is REALLY soft (more ‘wax-like’) it can easily be formed and shaped, which babies do when they breastfeed, swallow, talk etc. This all encourages proper teeth growth.
Unfortunately, the same effect can’t be achieved with bottle feeding. Children that are only bottle fed have a much higher chance of needing braces or other orthodontic treatment.
Aside from healthier tooth growth, breastfeeding can also influence how your baby’s jaw is developed and through this, it can also impact the development of airway and reduce the chances of one day suffering from conditions such as sleep apnea.
And as the last benefit, we can mention that breastfeeding can influence your child to form healthier swallowing and feeding habits. IT stimulates healthy growth and development of facial muscles and throat muscles but it can also minimize picky eating habits when the baby becomes a toddler.
Breastfeeding and science
When it comes to scientific proof of the benefits of breastfeeding, we should point out a few:
- In 1981 there was a study which involved 9700 children and proved that breastfeeding time correlates with lower risk of teeth misalignment
- In 2015, 48 studies have been reviewed and further proved the research from 1981
- In 2016 a study compared teeth development of teeth that were breastfed more than 6 months to children breastfed less than 6 months and found:
- Children that are less breastfed have a higher chance of developing crowded baby teeth
- Children that are breastfed less than 6 months, can develop thumb sucking or pacifier habits which can have negative impact on teeth and jaw development
- These babies can also develop convex facial profile, commonly characterized of having underbite.
- In 2018 a study suggested that children that are longer breastfed:
- Have a higher chance of having properly developed and aligned teeth
- Develop ideal teeth placement for optimal biting and chewing
- Develop ‘ideal’ incisor overbite
Hopefully this information will be beneficial for you when you decide whether you want to breastfeed your child or for how long. And in case your child doesn’t have properly developed teeth, underbite, overbite or might need braces, contact our office and schedule an appointment.