It is well understood that breastfeeding greatly benefits an infant child nutritionally, but did you know that breastfeeding can impact on a child’s future teeth development into adulthood for an entirely different reason?
Breastfeeding helps widen the child’s palate to allow more space for growing teeth
The physical process of an infant suckling on their mother’s breast helps to shape the palate into an ideal wide “U” shape.
This occurs when an infant presses their mother’s nipple against the top of the mouth (or roof of the palate). The force of this action sends a crucial first message to an infant’s brain to start expanding the maxilla bone, which is the first step to develop a wider dental arch in childhood.
A wide dental arch allows more spaces for growing teeth so that a child can eventually develop a perfectly aligned natural smile.
Bottle-fed infants may experience poor dental arch development & future oral issues
Bottle-fed infants who don’t experience breastfeeding are more prone to developing a narrower “V” shaped dental arch. Children with this type of dental arch are at higher risk of developing a number of oral issues including crooked, crowded or impacted teeth.
Teeth misalignment and impaction may require dental treatment such as braces and wisdom tooth extraction to correct each problem.
Other factors affecting oral arch development in children
After infancy, the development of the arch and postural muscles of a child’s mouth can continue to be affected by how a child bites and chews.
For example, when a child takes a large bite of a nutritious apple, their mouth takes on a similar homeostatic posture to breastfeeding. Additionally, their jaw muscles get a good workout which also stimulates jaw development.
On the other hand, a child eating mainly highly processed foods would not receive the same benefits, resulting in poorer arch development and potential oral health complications.