DIRECT latching helps infants with their jaw development.
Assoc Prof Dr Zamri Radzi, lecturer and paediatric dentistry and orthodontics consultant with Universiti Malaya Medical Centre, said this at the PRISMA 2015 conference.
Dr Zamri, who specialises in orthodontics and facial development, was speaking on the topic of “Breastfeeding: Dental Development & Beyond”.
“We want babies to develop in three dimensions. We want the height, width and the length of the jaw to develop. The development of the width of the jaw stops earlier, then the length and finally the height of the jaw,” said Dr Zamri, explaining that the frequency of suckling is higher when the baby is on the breast rather than if the baby is bottlefed.
“The muscle on the bottom jaw works extremely hard to get the milk when the baby is breastfeeding. Those muscles trigger the growth of the jaw.
“Whereas if the baby is bottlefed, the speed of the milk very much depends on the size of the hole in the teat of the baby bottle,” he said, explaining that this means the baby’s jaw will not have to work as hard to get the milk.
According to him, the frequent jaw movement helps not just in its development, but also helps develop the lips and cheek muscles, too, which are very important in forming a “nice facial appearance”.
He said that breastfeeding infants show better development of the dental arches and a lesser incidence of dental occlusion disorders than bottlefed infants.
“There are a lot of research papers available. If we look at the literature, we will find some that say yes, breastfeeding promotes the development. Others will say, there is no association between breastfeeding and the development. But now, we are seeing more and more research work suggesting the benefits of breastfeeding and we are seeing the level of evidence increasing as well.
“Research has found that a lot of bottlefed babies have underdeveloped lower jaws. Because the jaw is underdeveloped, the teeth end up crowding because there isn’t enough space for the placement of the teeth. We are seeing more and more crowding these days,” said Dr Zamri.
According to him, as a result of bottle-feeding, there are more cases of anterior open bite (AOB), anterior crossbite, the teeth sticking out, the lower jaw rotating, and for those who like adding syrup in the bottle, there are cases of caries.
During the Q&A after his presentation, Dr Zamri suggested that mothers minimise the use of the bottle if they have to go to work and can’t direct latch their baby during those hours.
Asked whether exclusive breastfeeding causes dental caries, Dr Zamri said there is not enough evidence to support that suggestion.
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