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Do Breastfed Babies Have Straighter Teeth?

– Wednesday, April 03, 2013 –

The February 2013 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association featured a wonderful article discussing the general and oral health benefits of breastfeeding. Even better – it urged all dentists to encourage breastfeeding for the first year of life, which is also the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

There are many health benefits that come from breastfeeding including a lower risk of: ear, gastrointestinal, and respiratory infections, diarrhea, asthma, SIDS, and even obesity.

Did you know that in addition to these benefits, breastfeeding may also decrease the risk of developing a crossbite of the teeth?

Babies that breastfeed use different muscle movements of the mouth, cheeks, tongue, and jaws than babies that are bottle-fed.  When breastfeeding, a baby makes a “squeezing” motion and the tongue compresses the breast nipple against the roof of the mouth (also known as the palate).   Bottle-feeding requires more of a “piston-like” motion on the artificial nipple.   Breastfeeding allows these proper muscle movements and patterns to help develop the palate, which may prevent a narrow palate and possible crossbite from forming later in life.

It can be difficult to exclusively breastfeed, especially if you are a working mom.   A way to maximize the benefits is to breastfeed whenever possible and bottle-feed when necessary.   And remember, almost every state has a law that specifically allows women to breastfeed in any public or private location, including Colorado.

by Dr. Jill K. Mioduski

Dr. Jill grew up in North Muskegon, Michigan, a small town just off Lake Michigan. She has known she wanted to be an orthodontist since fourth grade!

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