Your child should have their first dental visit six months after the first tooth comes in or by age one. If you notice any signs of improper tongue posture or difficulty latching while breastfeeding, you should schedule a consultation with a dentist or other trained profession sooner.
If your child shows any of these signs, they should be assessed as soon as possible:
- Difficulty breastfeeding
- Mouth breathing
- Open mouth posture
- Tongue or lip tie(s)
- Jaw pain
- Digestive issues
Here are a few tips for home dental care in the early years:
- Brush or wipe the teeth and/or gums with a wet washcloth or toothbrush after feedings and before bed.
- Increase water consumption and avoid sugary drinks like fruit juice and soda (look at labels, because even “healthy” drinks can be loaded with sugar).
- Use RiseWell, an all natural and fluoride free toothpaste for kids.
- Feed your child a well-balanced diet full of whole foods to help build healthy gums and strong teeth.
The first week in August is World Breastfeeding Week! Breastfeeding is proven to be a healthy activity for both mothers and infants. Growth and development of the oral structures are greatly enhanced by Breastfeeding. The physical action of a baby’s mouth opening around a mother’s breast helps the upper and lower jaws develop properly. Natural breast milk is considered as the perfectly balanced diet for growing children.
Breast milk provides antibodies, immune properties, antioxidants, and enzymes which help to protect babies from different diseases and infections, providing breastfed babies with a strong defense system against harmful bacteria. In addition to the presence of easily absorbed nutrients, the mechanism by which babies drink mother’s milk can promote early growth and development.
During the process of milk suckling in breast feeding:
- The infants and small babies use their tongue, jaws, and muscles. This helps grow and expand the jaws.
- Continuous use and stimulation of these oral and face structures can help to growth and increase the size of the jaws.
If your infant is having difficulty latching or feeding, this may be a sign of improper tongue posture or a tongue tie. A tongue without full range of motion is often unable to reach the palate, making feeding and swallowing difficult, or impossible. Besides making breastfeeding difficult, a tongue without full range of motion can limit growth and development of the teeth, mouth, jaws, and surrounding muscles.
Hallie Bulkin - MA, CCC-SLP, COM
Hallie Bulkin, MA, CCC-SLP, COM®, is the owner of Little Sprout Therapy & Metro Myo in Bethesda, MD. Her practice provides orofacial myofunctional “myo” therapy, speech & language therapy, occupational therapy, and feeding therapy to clients in their homes and schools. Hallie and her colleagues serve clients in MD, DC and NoVA.
Thank you for being a valued member of our dental family. Please give us a call if you have any questions or if we can be of any assistance whatsoever.