Photo by Kyle Nieber on Unsplash

May 7, 2018

From a nutritional standpoint, it is difficult to argue against the benefits of breastfeeding and breastmilk. After all, it is a mothers' built in ability to sustain their baby's life, catapult their growth, and if all goes according to plan, allow them to thrive in their first stage of life.

We now know that there is more to breastfeeding than just the benefits of the breastmilk itself on growth. It is critical for the progression of proper oral motor function and jaw development.

When breastfeeding is performed properly, the tongue holds the nipple against the roof of the babies mouth while the lips are sealed in a proper latch on the breast. Concurrently, an effective swallow is established using the tongue muscles.

It is paramount that proper positioning of the baby occurs when feeding to ensure nasal breathing. When effective nasal breathing takes place, the air fills the sinus cavity exerting downward pressure on the upper jaw.

This directly opposes the upward forces of the tongue pushing the nipple against the palate. The upper jaw is thus sandwiched between these two forces pushing the jaws development laterally and forward. Think of silly putty when it is compressed between your hands. The lower jaw expands over time similarly in this way.

For these events to occur, a baby should be fed in a seated or semi seated position. This helps the baby establish and maintain proper nasal breathing, lip competence, tongue position and correct swallow. When these processes naturally occur, we see significant health benefits.

The child has reduced issues with sleep apnea, temporomandibular joint pain, mouth breathing, crowded teeth, and oral health problems.

If one considers all of the animal species on the planet, humans are the only ones with orthodontic and dental issues. This truly follows from simple truths that animals left to their own devices eat what they were meant to eat and nature takes its normal course. Many oral health researchers have noted that a change in our diet towards a refined grain type is one part of this problem, however, it is very apparent that the story of crooked teeth and oral health lies with improper oral motor function.

Dr. Crespo

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