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  • Writer's pictureDr Shifa Shamsudeen

Breastfeeding VS Bottle-Feeding !!! Their Role On Children’s Teeth, Alignment And Sleep

Breastfeeding is not same as breast milk feeding!!! I was at the university in Boston couple of days before, when a young mother who was a professional was given a chance to present the case of her own child who is suffering from disordered sleep. The room was full of professionals and the GLOBES BEST doctors in the field of pediatric sleep.

We all discussed about how to help the child and it came to a point about breastfeeding it was understood that the child was breastfeed till 2 , however was supplemented with bottles in between. But the child was not on formulas Now there’s a big misunderstanding the industrialised world has about breastfeeding and breastmilk feeding. The subject is too deep and I have been wandering the world for a decade now to know the answer. Below I want to put it in simple words to make it understandable

Breastfeeding requires the tongue to go up especially the middle of the tongue. Bottlefeeding pushes the tongue down. Tongue being a muscle when pushed down, its function is compensated with other muscles. ( for eg: if one of the knee is hurt, we automatically limp with the other knee) (picture attached)

The most common muscle that compensates a tongue dysfunction is the cheek muscles. This has a direct effect on narrowing the upper jaw and also increases the risk to develop cavities and increases the risk of airway issues in children.

How much of bottlefeeding can cause the damage?

Now this is another common question I have always been asked. Unfortunately we are dealing with biology and not mathematics. In math 1+1 is always 2, in biology the results are variable and innumerable. It’s like asking how much of smoke can cause lung damage or how much of alcohol can cause liver damage.

What are the suggestions?

With the above said, the suggestion that I have always been giving is “ exclusive extended non-compensated breastfeeding “ (atleast for 2 years of age). Bottles however small the exposure might lead to soft tissue dysfunction, predisposing the child to risk of narrow jaws and narrow airway.

How can working mothers accommodate feeding without bottles?

A Lactation consultant can help you express and breastfeed without the need for bottles. Please reach out to prevention focused Lactation consultants they can help. For instance my Lactation consultant who helps me in my practice suggests express and feed with cups / cup and spoon and also provides a chart on how to plan the diet in a day for the child with using expressed milk to make infant friendly foods.

What if we have already introduced the child to bottles?

A function focused dentist can help you. My practice treats over hundreds of children with tongue dysfunction in a year. A very few have anatomical restrictions whereas the majority has lifestyle induced dysfunction.

How can a function focused Pediatric dentist help?

Your function focused practitioner will go into detailed evaluation of head and neck muscle and their function and suggests therapy which includes CUSTOMISED exercises and muscle work with removable intra-oral appliances. By which you can help the child optimise function and also proper growth of jaws, proper and healthy airway and straight cavity free teeth naturally.

Can removable appliances alone help me?

NO!!!! unfortunately certain marketing strategies have made many parents believe that the removable appliance alone can cause a majority of treatment success. In my experience over a decade with thousands of children, I have seen this kind of approach can’t give permanent and stable results. The child needs an exclusive evaluation with a customised treatment plan in which the appliance acts just as an adjuvant.

Having said the above the best way is to prevent and prevention starts with “ exclusive extended non-compensated breastfeeding

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