The how and when on learning to chew
by Dr. Dave Tesini, Pediatric Dentist, dad of 3, grandfather of 3
Proper sucking, swallowing, breathing and chewing is a progression of learned behaviors supported by the development of the face and mouth of your baby. Who would ever expect a newborn baby to chew?… they can’t until their mouth and joints develop the strength and anatomy to help them to do it. Did you know it starts “in utero” with jaw stretch reflexes”? You probably saw this on the ultrasound and thought that they were only yawning but really, they were beginning to strengthen their jaw for the challenges of breastfeeding after they are born.
Baby bottles and teethers continue this chew learning cycle. Babies are programmed for multisensory features of food i.e. size, sensory input, taste, and resistance. They can have nipple contours and built- in-supports to help position the tongue and encourage proper jaw movements. Teethers have different silicone “squishiness” and bite angles for jaw joint development. Before you know it they are mastering pureed fruits and vegetables and even a goldfish cracker every now and then…they are on this path of food progression.
David A. Tesini, DMD, MS is a pediatric dentist and Associate Clinical Professor at Tufts University, School of Dental Medicine where he teaches in the Pediatric Dentistry Department. He was the first Associate-Chief-Dentist of Tufts Dental Facilities serving Patients with Special Needs. Dr. Tesini serves as a Medical Advisor to Smilo. He has served in various capacities for statewide and national organizations including appointments as Chairman of the Massachusetts Dental Society’s Council on Dental Health and as past President of the American Academy of Dentistry for Persons with Disabilities. Most recently he was elected to the Board of Trustees of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.
He is the founder and past president of Project Stretch: Dentistry Reaching Out to Children, a non-profit foundation providing free dental care to children around the world. Over 20,000 children have received preventive dental care since 1988.
Dr. Tesini is a co-founder of TWI, LLC a product development company that designs, patents and licenses innovations that are “based in science” for the baby product industry. He has authored chapters in dental textbooks, published over 20 articles in refereed scientific journals and holds the prestigious Fellowship of Dental Surgery in the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, Scotland.