Do you ever wonder about how a face grows? Or how the things we do (or don’t do) can influence the genetic plan that we are born with? Well, we think about it, we study it, we read the research. And we like to share interesting facts with you, like the positive influence that breastfeeding has in the development of the face:
During the act of breastfeeding, the nipple flattens and adapts to the natural shape of the baby’s palate (roof the mouth). The tongue moves in a wave like motion and pushes against the roof of the mouth. This movement extracts the milk, puts pressure on the palate to stimulate growth and develops muscles that allow for proper swallowing. It is this correct muscle movement required for breastfeeding that helps to initially drive the growth of the bone of the jaws and set the stage for muscle patterns that a baby will use their whole lifetime. Properly developed jaw bones have enough space for all the teeth to come in without crowding.
The breast nipple is quite different than a bottle’s nipple. The breast nipple flattens out against the palate creating a wide, “U” shaped palate as opposed to a bottle’s nipple which can create a vaulted, narrow “V” shaped palate. Because the roof of the mouth is also the floor of the nose, a vaulted, narrow palate may reduce the airway of the baby. Reduction in the airway may lead to issues with breathing, enlarged tonsils and snoring. It also may create a need for palatal expansion and orthodontics to expand the narrow jaw.
Breastfeeding helps set the foundation for proper tongue posture, nasal breathing, well developed jawbones and airway, and can dramatically influence the way the face grows. If you have questions about breastfeeding or facial growth, we’d love to hear from you.